Africa Welcomes Agricultural Investors

on May 14, 2012
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African agriculture is undergoing a significant transformation, opening up new opportunities for both investors and farmers, according to African and global leaders at the 22ndWorld Economic Forum on Africa.Forum participants highlighted that Africa offers profitable investment opportunities in the agricultural sector, which in turn would strengthen the continent’s economy and food security.

The 22nd World Economic Forum on Africa gathered more than 700 participantsin Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 9 to 11 May. Attending the discussions wereheads of state and government fromAfrica, business leaders, international agencies and farmer organisationsfrom more than 70 countries. The aim of this year’s forum was toaddress the transformation of Africa’s development as the continent seeks to sustain its economic growth. And as the forum participants have noted, the continent’s agricultural sector has great development potential, which holds tremendous economic benefit for the African countries.Currently, however, much of this potential is untapped. “We have scratched the surface, but we haven’t yet broken the mould,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister MelesZenawi. “When we do that, you will see the explosion of development in Africa.”

The development ofAfrican agriculture also presents an opportunity to strengthen the world’s food security, according to the World Economic Forum vice-chairman JosetteSheeran: “Working together, we can ensure that when we meet in 10 years, it will be in an Africa that is not only feeding itself, but helping to feed the world.”Although Africa has 60 percent of the world’s potentially available arable land, it has failed to contribute significantly to global food demand, largely because of constrained investments in the agricultural sector. To unfold its full potential Africa now welcomes foreign and local investors to contribute to the continent’s development while also benefiting from the expected high yields.

!m[](/uploads/story/70/thumbs/pic_1_inline.png)In the context of the investment opportunities in Africa, Dr Garrison Ikiara, lecturer of International Economics at the University of Nairobi,said that the World Economic Forum on Africa should serve as a platform to provide confidence to investors who were afraid of investing in the continent due to perceived instability.”The world community is beginning to recognise that Africa is indeed becoming an attractive investment destination,” said Dr Ikiara. “The forum should show all international investors that the continent is no longer the Dark Continent,” he said, adding that Africa is now ready to receive investment.

This statement was confirmed during the forum’sThursday’s session when participantsshowcased specific investment and partnership opportunities aligned to their national priorities for agricultural transformation.”We are ready to do business. That’s why we came to this meeting,” said Tanzanian President JakayaKikwete, noting that Tanzania’s agriculture investment strategy prioritised groups that could most benefit from new market opportunities.

While welcoming international investors, African countries agreed that empowering the small-scale farmers on the continent is alsoessentialfor the future of agriculture.Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Rwandaall agreed on the fact that to realise the agricultural transformation on the continent they need to increase the productivity of small-scale farmers and have them well-organised and collaborative, so they can take advantage of investments and supply chains.

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