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Agriculture processing zones can change Africa’s economy — participants

8 months ago | 127



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 THE Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) could trigger a fundamental change in Africa’s economic transformation.

This is according to participants at the first partnership meeting for agro-industrialisation.

In a statement issued by the bank on Tuesday, participants shared insights on how agro-industrialisation could create massive job opportunities, boost agricultural productivity, generate wealth and improve the quality of life for people across the continent.

Participants also agreed to work together under a cooperation framework for SAPZ implementation in Africa under the leadership of the AfDB.

According to Ahmed Bennis, the Secretary-General, Africa Economic Zones Organisation, the value of the agribusiness sector is expected to reach one trillion dollars by 2030.

“Those of us working in the economic zones sector will work closely with the African Development Bank initiative on this huge opportunity.”

Three AfDB vice presidents addressed the virtual gathering, detailing the bank’s strategy for scaling up employment opportunities and income generation through SAPZs.

Dr Beth Dunford, the bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development said the stakes “are extremely high” during this week of the UN Food Systems Summit.

“We stakeholders in Africa’s growth and development need to form a common vision on a road map toward agro-industrialisation on the continent.

“At the African Development Bank, we believe that turnkey projects, such as Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones are crucial to development.

“They bring together the ecosystem in regional value chains and key commodities, bringing together production, post-harvest, logistics, and processing to feed Africa’s growing cities and export to the world in a sustainable, green, and affordable way,” she added.

SAPZs are intended to focus on agro-processing activities in areas with high levels of agricultural potential.

They enable farmers, agricultural producers, processors, aggregators, and distributors to work together in one location, lowering transaction costs and sharing business development services to boost productivity and competitiveness.

Solomon Quaynor, the bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation, said “If we are going to create jobs, we need to enable the private sector to thrive. Overall, it is about industrialising Africa.”

Dr Kevin Kariuki, the bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, encouraged partners to work together on an implementation model for SAPZs, making a case for renewable energy to ensure optimal benefit.

Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, the Special Adviser on Industrialisation to the AfDB President, said the experiences and commitment shared by participants were valuable ingredients for a cooperation framework that would ensure high-level leadership and inter-agency coordination.

The framework would also ensure that each zone attracts the right investment, and implements to high standards, and avoids unpredictable risks like political setbacks.

The gathering brought together representatives from development finance institutions, private developers of Special Economic Zones, and other key global and regional players in Africa’s agri-business sector.

Leading financiers and developers attending the session included: African Export-Import Bank, Industrial Development Corporation, Africa Finance Corporation, Trade and Development Bank, OPEC Fund for International Development; and Africa 50.

Others are West African Development Bank, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, Islamic Development Bank, and International Fund for Agricultural Development. (NAN)

- Sept. 21, 2021 @ 13:36 GMT |

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