|21 July, 2019

Senegal's Mohamed bin Zayed Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship foundation stone laid

New centre will have a capital of $20mln to help fund a series of special programmes and initiatives aimed towards promoting innovation and SME development in Senegal and West African region.

DAKAR, Senegal- Hussain Jasim Al Nowais, Chairman, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, KFED, has laid the foundation stone for what will soon become the Mohamed bin Zayed Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The new facility will be located in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, with the aim to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among local businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, SMEs.

Present during the stone laying ceremony were Amadou Hott, Senegalese Minister of Economy, Planning and International Cooperation; Papa Amadou Sarr, General Delegate of Rapid Entrepreneurship for Youth and Women; and Mohammed Ali Al Shamsi, Charge d'Affaires at the UAE Embassy in Dakar, along with representatives from both countries.

Chairman Al Nowais revealed that the new centre will have a capital of US$20 million (AED 73.6 million) to help fund a series of special programmes and initiatives aimed towards promoting innovation and SME development in Senegal and the rest of the West African region. The new centre is being developed to help enable a series of projects designed to strengthen the government's efforts to create a stable and balanced economy while also opening job opportunities for the youth, empower women and build the capacity of entrepreneurs and local institutions. He explained that the centre will become a platform to support innovation and serve as a financial and technical haven for those with the skills and creative potential to achieve their ambitions and establish their own projects, which will contribute to the national economy of Senegal and its neighbouring West African countries.

The Mohamed bin Zayed Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will also include a business incubator placing strong focus on technology, a business accelerator, related offices and specialised laboratories needed in the preparation of models for 3D printing, aviation, electronics and robotics. Al Nowais shared that the new centre will provide key services for local entrepreneurs, including hosting companies, training, financing, guidance and consulting. Meanwhile, Amadou Hott, Senegalese Minister of Economy, Planning and International Cooperation, said that the Mohamed bin Zayed Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship represents an important milestone in the country's efforts towards developing its economy while also integrating the roles of its youth and women. He further noted that these projects and initiatives will help in the ongoing efforts to become a sustainable knowledge economy. The Minister also expressed his thanks to the UAE and its wise leadership for their continued support for Senegal's growth and development. The proposed facility will start construction work in September and will cover an area of 20,000 square metres. The Centre is expected to be completed and officially opened in February 2021.

Papa Amadou Sarr, General Delegate of Rapid Entrepreneurship for Women and Youth, cited the UAE's continuing efforts to support the development of countries from the West African region. He added that this initiative will inspire hope to young people aspiring to establish innovative projects that will contribute to the development and strengthening of their economies.

The new centre is also expected to be one of the main engines to be utilised in the empowerment of women, a move that is currently being implemented by all governments in the West African region. The KFED is one of the most important local and regional funds involved in supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, encouraging youth and empowering women, which has led many friendly countries in the region to take advantage of its experience in this field, using it as a model to use for their respective countries.

© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2019.

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