Seminar Report "African Economy Seen from Okinawa - Possibilities of Startup Market 2023" Seminar Held! (July 12 in Okinawa)


event |


Conference Name

Africa's Potential at the Forefront of the African Startup Ecosystem


12th Julay


JICA, Co-Sponsors:JETRO Okinawa, Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovatio Okinawa Office,


Kyoto City

Moderators and panelists


  • Mr.Yakubu Musa Yakubu, National Coordinator of Office for Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation (ONDI)
  • Mr.Naoto Yamamoto(CEO,Rinnovation)
  • Mr.Kunihiro Shimoji (SME Support Japan, EF Polymer)
  • Mr.Riki Yamauchi(CEO, Riviera Partners, Founder)
  • Mr.Naonobu Fuwa (JICA, Entrepreneurs Support and Innovation Promotion Advisor)


  • Mr.Shinji Odo (SME Support Japan)

Primary objectives and outcomes

Africa, the last growing continent. With a current population of 1.4 billion and projected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2050, one in four of the world's population will be in Africa. Many startups are being created, mainly by young people who aim to solve local social issues by utilizing technology, and investment from the world is expanding. We invited government officials and experts from Nigeria, which boasts the largest economy, population, and startup investment in Africa, and held a seminar to explain the current African tech market and to share the experiences of business executives who are expanding business operation into Africa.

Content of the discussions


Mr. Batule explained the current state of the startup ecosystem in Nigeria, including the growth in the number and value of investments and the number of startups in the fintech and e-commerce sectors, which are currently about 3,000 active companies. He also emphasized that the country's progress in infrastructure development, the growth potential of a market with a population of 200 million, and the implementation of policies to support startups are promising.

Mr. Yamamoto introduced a business model in which bagasse, the residue left over after sugarcane is pressed, is upcycled as a raw material to develop unique materials and produce and sell denim products, etc. He also explained that the company is considering expanding its business to Africa.

Panel Discussion

Mr. Fuwa introduced specific examples of startups in Africa and mentioned that Okinawa's business model seems to be a good match for Africa. He also explained that when expanding into Africa, it is effective to work with local partners and approach their customer base and networks. Mr. Yamauchi explained that the amount of investment in startups in Africa is about the same as in Japan, and that the major sectors and characteristics differ by country. He also pointed out that although Africa has growth potential, it lacks in providing manufacturing solutions, and that Japan and Africa, with its manufacturing technology, are a good match.
Mr. Shimoji mentioned that EF Polymer, which was born out of the startup accelerator program at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, is developing environmentally friendly organic polymers by upcycling inedible fruit and vegetable residues, and that they can be applied worldwide.

The seminar provided an insight into the affinity between Okinawa and Africa, which are geographically distant from each other, and the potential for future collaboration. We look forward to the future development of both regions, and JICA will continue its efforts to strengthen the startup ecosystem.