Greetings from Dakar

The company has delivered 1.5 million parcels so far, and a series-A financing is currently being negotiated: The Dakar-based start-up PAPS is one of three companies organising Senegal’s last-mile delivery service. Without a formal address system, but using a digital platform and access to existing informal services, from bicycle messengers to trucks.

My first big trip in over a year has brought me here to Senegal. We are preparing for the “Innovation Mission Dakar” (28-30 September 2021). Most probably, this will be the first joint business trip from the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). It is being organised by the Afrika Verein der deutschen WirtschaftSwiss-Cham AfricaProsper Africa and my company ECOTEC.

For me, by the way, it is a coming back to Dakar after more than 30 years. My feelings about it are a different story. However, after a few days, what do I see that the participants of the Innovation Mission Dakar can expect in September?

  • First of all, well-educated and committed young entrepreneurs.
  • In the logistics sector, they succeed in building the interface between the formal and informal economy. With Amazon and UPC as customers.
  • FinTech scene unlike in East Africa. Not only mobile phone providers but also innovative start-ups play important roles.
  • Highly innovative customer platforms that put B2C business in Africa on a new footing.
  • First approaches in HealthTech to connect hospital and doctor platforms with patients’ personal medical histories.
  • A booming “off-grid EnergyTech” sector in which the provider structure is already in a consolidation phase.
  • E-commerce platforms, AgriTech startups and many more digital platforms. 

Senegal is not Kenya, Dakar not Nairobi

Senegal is not Kenya, where the innovation of mobile money heralded Africa’s digital revolution. Business development still lags behind East Africa. But this is precisely a great opportunity for European companies because the potential is enormous. The struggle for market share, in whatever area, is only just beginning.

For German-speaking companies, business model innovation can be the first step towards entering the market. Think long-term, learn carefully, test-and-learn together with the smart young African entrepreneurs.

We are still working on the detailed programme of the trip. In any case, we will be immersing ourselves in the business innovation and Startup scene of Dakar in September. And we will reflect on it and discuss possible entry points.

I’m looking forward to September.

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