Ghana will host the Pan-African AgriTech Innovation Hub, a public-private partnership initiative dubbed “Timbuktoo”, aimed to mobilise and invest $1 billion of public and private capital for the next 10 years to build startup revolution in Africa.
The initiative championed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which was launched in 2021 seeks to engage a large number of private and public sector partners to establish eight Timbuktoo Hubs in recognised leading startup ecosystems, particularly in Accra, Nairobi, Cape Town, Lagos, Dakar, Kigali, Casablanca, and Cairo, among others.
Addressing the gathering during TimXAccra event held in Accra on Friday, the UNDP Resident Representative to Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi said the initiative would enable the youth in Ghana and across Africa to become world-class entrepreneurs, innovators, and problem solvers.
She said agriculture remained a key driver of Ghana’s economy, which contributed to export earnings, served as major source of inputs for the manufacturing sector and employed over 50 per cent of Ghana’s population.
According to her, despite the sector’s importance, productivity remained low and it was estimated that, only 50 per cent of the country’s 13.5 million hectares of land was currently under cultivation.
“There are tremendous untapped opportunities for young innovators to seize emerging opportunities like Timbuktoo and venture into agri-tech driven businesses,” she added.
Dr Lusigi said Agri-tech had the potential to power local and regional value chains and help Ghana and countries across Africa to leverage the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
She said drawing on Timbuktoo initiative and the eight hubs across Africa, it would be able to engage key ecosystem players to unblock bottlenecks and create viable solutions for scaling startups.
The Timbuktoo Project Head and Chief Innovation Officer of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin said the initiative was to solve the current gap in early-stage risk capital, better integrate African innovation players from universities to corporates to investors, and to enable startups to seize the African market opportunity.
“We are excited to open a Timbuktoo hub in Accra, recognising the vibrancy and positive trends that are emerging from Ghana’s startup ecosystem. The future is bright as we harness Africa’s enormous youth talent to transform the continent into a knowledge and innovation global powerhouse,” she stated.