Investments in Agribusiness in Africa
Can Africa feed the world?
Africa’s agriculture sector has been growing at a steady pace and might turn the continent into an economic power. Africa might be able to feed itself and the world if it keeps putting a focus on enhancing efficiency in using its resources.
The focus on agriculture emerged from the willingness of African policymakers to capitalize on their strengths to achieve economic growth. Following this line of thinking, as part of the first declaration of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity made during the African Union Summit in 2003, African leaders committed to allocate 10% of the budgets to agriculture .
The past decade has been witnessing economic growth in African regions that endorsed the CAADP, with a 160% increase in agricultural output . The upward trend in the sector uncovers the potential of agricultural investments in Africa in promoting growth and decreasing poverty levels, whereas, agriculture represents 30% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP and more than 40% in export volumes .
African governments, business leaders, and global decision-makers are putting more efforts into funding the agribusiness in the region. Several measures are being placed together to reduce the obstacles for growth in the region, calling for creating common grounds to combat climate change, land degradation and desertification .
Moreover, investments in the continent have been booming in the past year. Rising to a total of $2.3 billion, with over $500 million in new private-sector investments in 2015 . Being the land of the richest resources, Africa has naturally been attracting investors because of the large scale of unexploited resources in the continent. Only 7% of the 39 million hectares of land suitable for irrigation is currently irrigated , while the continent holds 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable lands, which leaves an incredible opportunity for investors willing to capitalize on agriculture .
Although Africa has promising prospects in agriculture, there are multiple challenges to overcome to achieve a leading position in the agricultural sector. It is true that investments in food production and capitalization on resources are a key measure, but African countries must focus on creating quality and branding Africa’s agriculture by following international standards and create quality reforms, a challenge that South Africa overcame by becoming a leader in product quality . In addition, there is a greater need for knowledge and funding and investments in infrastructure that go in line with agricultural growth as production growth would lead to an increasing need for transportation networks and links to other countries in the world.
Agriculture can drive Africa to rise as an economic power. The continent has the potential to feed the 10 billion world population projected in 30 years. Alongside global leaders, African government ought to put the focus on agriculture at the top of their agenda, to enhancing their food production and quality capabilities.
Sofia Hazim, Analyst at Infomineo
August 1, 2016