With the changes in size and structure of the African population, the food market is projected to be worth around US$ 1 trillion annually by 2030 from the current US$300 billion. This probably explains a number of scenarios in Africa.
Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote is set to become the world’s single largest rice exporter in two years. He had been leading rice importation in Nigeria as the country consumes almost 7 million tons of rice which costs the country over US$2 billion US annually. He resolved to local production after the Nigerian Federal Government interest in reviving agriculture and reducing imports.
Last year, Twiga Foods, a Kenyan start up that leverages on mobile technology to distribute fresh agricultural produce in Kenya, received a US$ 10 Million investment from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, TLcom, and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). The company’s m-commerce platform enables businesses to order fresh produce, as and when needed, from farmers across and guarantees fair prices for farmers and free delivery to their clients. Kenya Foreign Direct Investment in Kenyan agribusiness was US$10 billion in 2010 and is projected to reach US$45 billion by 2020.
In Rwanda, Minimex Limited, one of the country’s leading producers of maize products recently received 3 Million US dollars from AgDevCo, a UK based social investor backed by UKAID. The company has so far invested US$6.4 million in the three companies with long-term agenda of increasing the investments to US$20 million in the next ten years in small and medium sized businesses.
Morocco’s OCP is investing US$ 50 million in a joint digital project that seeks to take the lead in African agriculture. The project involves investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, use of satellite imagery, weather forecast, and historical data to predict and respond to the fluctuations and demands of the continent’s agriculture industry. It also includes an e-market platform to ease African farmers’ access to global agriculture market trends. The company which has a presence in 16 African countries, organized contests for agriculture start-ups across the continent and also funded university scholarships for agricultural and environment engineering students.
The UK government through its Agri-Tech Catalyst funding backed by DFID is seeking to invest UK £3 million in African Agro-food innovations through collaborations to help mitigate the challenges in the sector. The aim of this competition (which is still running) is to increase the pace of technological development and scale of uptake of agricultural and food systems innovation along the agri-food chain.
All this confirms that agriculture could be Africa’s new oil and could go a long way in alleviating poverty and creating the much needed jobs especially for the youths who are the majority and shun away from the sector. But this will only happen if African governments meet their Malabo Declarations of setting aside 10% of their budgetary allocations to the agriculture sector consistently. In addition, accountability should be enhanced to ensure that the money is spent in the right way while development partners’ commitments should be constantly reviewed to monitor their achievements and make changes where necessary.