AFRI CONVERSE 2024 #1: Africa 2063: Unpacking the Potential of MSMEs and Championing Grassroots Ingenuity

March 10, 2024
AFRI CONVERSE 2024 #1 Africa 2063: Unpacking the Potential of MSMEs and Championing Grassroots Ingenuity
Event Details

15 March 2024

17:00 pm - 18:30 pm (JST) / 11:00 am - 12:30 pm (EAT)


In recent years, there has been a discernible emphasis placed on fostering investment and commercial endeavors from Japan, prominently exemplified through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). Deliberations within the TICAD forum consistently revolve around strategic initiatives geared towards facilitating Japanese investment, while concurrently nurturing the expansion of Japanese services and products within the African landscape. This trend has witnessed a notable ascent, attributable to the concerted efforts of established corporations and burgeoning startups alike. Notably, the surge in Japanese companies venturing into Africa escalated markedly from 520 in 2010 to 858 by 2018, indicative of a palpable inclination towards harnessing the continent's burgeoning economic opportunities. Furthermore, the burgeoning involvement of Japanese venture capital (VC) firms in supporting local startups across Africa underscores a profound acknowledgment of the region's inherent innovation and entrepreneurial dynamism.

In the pursuit of identifying viable business prospects within the African continent, it is imperative for the Japanese private sector to acknowledge the prevalence of locally oriented enterprises across all African nations, a facet that has often been overlooked. This recognition is particularly crucial given that approximately 85% of employment within Sub-Saharan Africa is situated within the informal sector, serving as a pivotal avenue for absorbing a substantial portion of the region's burgeoning youth workforce. Consequently, in select countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, the informal sector's economic output may comprise as much as 62% of the officially recorded Gross Domestic Product (GDP), underscoring its significant contribution to the overall economic landscape. 

In recent times, a discernible trend has emerged across Africa wherein grassroots enterprises are increasingly embracing digital tools for both marketing endeavors and financial transactions, underscoring a progressive shift towards technological integration within local business ecosystems. Furthermore, there exist compelling instances where dynamic and resourceful young individuals harness their ingenuity to proactively tackle indigenous challenges, thereby effectively managing and nurturing grassroots enterprises to fruition. These success narratives not only underscore the intrinsic significance of innovation and creativity in addressing societal exigencies but also exemplify a profound comprehension of local dynamics, enabling the formulation of sustainable solutions that yield positive outcomes within their respective communities.

Consequently, while deliberations within Japan regarding the promotion of investment and business in Africa have traditionally centered on advancing Japanese products and services in the region, it is imperative to recognize and commend the resilience and resourcefulness exhibited by grassroots enterprises across the continent and to partner with them. The practice of co-creation with local initiatives not only cultivates mutually advantageous partnerships but also nurtures an environment conducive to inclusive economic growth. Locally initiated enterprises, characterized by their tailored approach to addressing regional needs and cultural intricacies, inherently exhibit a heightened degree of adaptability and resilience, ensuring sustained relevance and efficacy. By actively engaging community members, particularly in addressing the needs of marginalized demographics, these businesses foster social cohesion, thereby laying the groundwork for enduring and sustainable development. This resilience was vividly demonstrated amidst the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, where local businesses showcased remarkable agility in swiftly responding to challenges, adeptly adjusting their operations to accommodate shifting consumer demands and circumvent disruptions within global value chains.

Moreover, with the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), there arises a burgeoning anticipation for the advancement of local industries and a heightened endorsement of grassroots entrepreneurship. The o perationalization of AfCFTA heralds substantial prospects for fostering intra-African trade and facilitating economic integration on a regional scale. By dismantling barriers to trade and fostering synergistic collaboration among nations, AfCFTA endeavors to catalyze heightened levels of economic growth and development throughout the continent. This transformative initiative engenders optimism surrounding the burgeoning growth opportunities for indigenous industries and the auspicious prospects for indigenous enterprises to flourish within an increasingly interconnected and cohesive African market landscape.


The session discusses the potential of co-creation and collaboration between the private sectors of Africa and Japan capitalizing the vibrant growth of local economy backed up by the ingenuine grassroot MSMEs and entrepreneurs, envisioning the opportunities of partnership through the occasion of the upcoming TICAD Ministerial Meeting and TICAD9.  


Event Details

Title: AFRI CONVERSE 2024 #1: Africa 2063: Unpacking the Potential of MSMEs and Championing Grassroots Ingenuity

Date and Time: 15th March 2024, 17:00 pm - 18:30 pm (JST) / 11:00 am - 12:30 pm (EAT)

Venue: Hybrid - Online via ZOOM and at Kyoto University

Languages: Japanese, English, French (Simultaneous interpretation available)

Co-organizer: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Kyoto University Innovative Africa Program

Admission: Free


  IN-PERSON            ONline     

  • 17:00 – 17:01    Introduction
  • 17:01 – 17:05    Setting the Scene
  • 17:05 – 18:25    Panel Discussion
  • 18:25 – 18:30    Reflection and closing by the moderator


  • Motoki Takahashi: Professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University
  • Raymond Gilpin: Chief Economist and Head of Strategy, Analysis, and Research at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa
  • Fayza Shemsu: CEO & Co-Founder of BINA PADS (Ethiopia)
  • Angela Ahadome: Boston Consulting Group


Shuhei Ueno: Deputy Director-General for Planning and TICAD Process, Africa Department, JICA



Chika Kondoh, TICAD Partnership Specialist, UNDP Tokyo Office (