The first edition of the West Africa Technology Fair (WATEF) has opened in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on Monday, October 25, 2021. The overarching goal is to promote cutting-edge technologies needed for the transformation of West African agriculture.
Holding over five days (October 25-30, 2021) at the King Fahd Palace Hotel, the event brings together agriculture and finance ministers from West Africa, farmer organizations, businesses, civil society members, etc.
WATEF is organized jointly by CORAF and Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Most of the innovations on display constitute technologies being deployed at scale by CORAF’s Centers of Specialization and TAAT with a view to opening up avenues for innovative partnerships, technology brokerage, and uptake.
“WATEF represents a platform for putting proven technologies and deliverables on the market, creating a situation where demand meets supply and exposing them to potential buyers,” says Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Executive Director of CORAF.
“The fair will create opportunities for new partnership ventures with the private sector and other technology users in the sub-region.”
The overall goal of TAAT is to improve agriculture as a business across Africa by deploying agricultural productivity-increasing technologies within nine priority commodities.
“WATEF will help to further mainstream path-breaking technologies into country agricultural programs towards transformation and socio-economic development across the sub-region,” says Dr. Innocent Musabyimana, Head of the TAAT Clearinghouse.
“As a follow-up to the High-level Dialogue on Feeding Africa: Leadership to Scale-up Successful Innovations, organised by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development in April 2021, the fair will equally leverage the outcome of the United Nations 2021 Food Systems Summit as a pathway for a food secure West Africa,” Dr Musabyimana added.
With the theme “Sustaining Momentum towards Agricultural Transformation,” the fair, which holds physically and virtually under the leadership of Prof. Moussa Baldé, the Senegalese Agriculture and Rural Equipment Minister and H.E. Mr. Sekou Sangare, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, comprises agricultural commodity value chains like aquaculture, rice, maize, wheat, sorghum and millet, livestock and cassava. Others include orange-fleshed sweet potato, beans and vegetables.
The fair equally provide avenues for addressing transversal issues in agriculture such as seed policy harmonisation, water management and irrigation, soil fertility, fall armyworm response and empowering youth in agribusiness.
The fair is a “marketplace” event comprising elements of Demand, Supply and Feasibility, driving its goal of increased technology uptake and mainstreaming towards agricultural transformation. It aspires to showcase tested and proven technologies of TAAT and CORAF for agricultural transformation, deepen understanding and familiarisation on the functioning and potential of the technologies, familiarise stakeholders with technology profiling instruments and platforms of TAAT and CORAF for assessing and acquiring technologies in response to demand, strengthen connections between technology ‘owners’ and the private sector and other technology users, and establish new investment and collaborative partnerships that lead to project scaling and resource mobilisation.