By Irene Gaitirira
Published February 23, 2018
Though agriculture in Africa has traditionally been associated with pain, penury, and poverty, it is a huge wealth-creating sector that is primed to unleash new economic opportunities that will lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), said this while speaking at US Department of Agriculture’s 94th Agriculture Outlook Forum in Virginia on February 22, 2018. He invited the private sector in both the United States of America and the world to invest in African agriculture as a business with economic returns.
“The size of the food and agriculture market in Africa will rise to US$1 trillion by 2030. This is the time for US agri-businesses to invest in Africa,” he said. “Think of a continent where McKinsey projects household consumption is expected to reach nearly US$2.1 trillion and business-to-business expenditure will reach US$3.5 trillion by 2025. Think of a continent brimming with 840 million youth, the youngest population in the world, by 2050.”
He appealed to the US government to be at the forefront of efforts to encourage fertiliser and seed companies, manufacturers of tractors and equipment, irrigation and ICT farm analytics to ramp up their investments on the continent.
“I am here to seek a partnership with America: a genuine partnership to help transform agriculture in Africa, and by so doing unlock the full potential of agriculture in Africa, unleash the creation of wealth that will lift millions out of poverty in Africa, while creating wealth and jobs back home right here in America,” the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate told the Forum.”
Adesina said AfDB, the institution he heads and that contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states, is spearheading various transformative business and agricultural initiatives.
Saying AfDB shall launch ‘a 100% transactional platform’ known as Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 7 – 9, 2018, ‘to leverage global pension funds and other institutional investors to invest in Africa’, Dr Adesina said AfDB is also ‘pioneering the establishment of Staple Crop Processing Zones in 10 African countries, that are expected to transform rural economies into zones of economic prosperity and save African economies billions of dollars in much needed foreign reserves’.
“We must now turn the rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. This requires a total transformation of the agriculture sector. At the core of this must be rapid agricultural industrialization. We must not just focus on primary production but on the development of agricultural value chains,” Adesina said. “That way, Africa will turn from being at the bottom to the top of global value chains.”