The South-South partnership is fast becoming vital to the development of the Africa continent in the coming years; this is in the light of the emerging development of these regions and growing trade between Africa and the countries in the South. Africa seems to stand at the center of the manifold increase in the BRICS trade in the last ten years as the BRICS countries now trade more with Africa than with each other.Brazil is gradually becoming a vital strategic partner in the Africa developmental issues, such as agriculture, infrastructure and technical cooperation. The well-known old similarities between Brazil and Africa in terms of culture, development circumstances, agricultural situation etc., make the country a more potent source of lesson and partnership for the Africa continent. The development of agriculture in Brazil has been attributed to the countries concerted efforts towards investments in sector towards research for generation of relevant technologies, infrastructural development and supportive policies.The Brazil-Africa leadership forum for 2013, was organized by the Financial Times Live, on the 27th of November 2013, the forum assembled leading trade, finance, business and agricultural research and development experts to discuss the future of Brazil-Africa trade and cooperation. The forum also examined the activities of the government of both continents towards trade policies that drives economic development around the prime sectors. The agricultural sector is considered as a key sector driving development in the two continents; issues around how the Brazil success in the agricultural sector can inform Africa agricultural transformation drive was examined in a panel discussion. FARA representative alongside with the representatives of Standard Bank of Africa, IFAD and Pinesso Group participated in the session.Africa agriculture stands as a “Bundle of Potentials” that are yet to be unlocked, unlocking the potentials will require all it takes to make Africa agriculture yield its contribution to national economy growth and the wellbeing of Africa majority that depends on it for their livelihood. While the spate of agricultural technologies remains an issue for urgent attention, there are many institutional and infrastructural issues that would still limits benefits from the best technologies if they are not addressed. The on-going strategic alliance program between Brazil and Africa on agriculture named “Africa-Brazil Innovation Market Place” has fostered series of collaboration between Africa researchers and Brazilian researcher from EMBRAPA. This has led to exchange of germplasm, technologies and different production and processing techniques. The projects within this partnership have generated a handful of successes that could be scaled-up and out for the benefits of more farmers in Africa. However, Africa will benefits a lot better from this strategic alliance if it’s debilitating infrastructure deficit could find a solution within this strategic alliance, especially if it could draw the attention of the Brazilian investors in bridging the financing gap for infrastructure development in Africa.Apparently, the growth of Africa agriculture will be driving by its growing middle class population which had its height of 33% in 2012. The demand for more processed commodities will increase compared to raw commodities, while the supermarket mode of retailing agricultural food commodities will also grow. This projection could be satisfied either by importation of the processed and packaged commodities or a response from within Africa to develop its commodity value chain. The latter is the best for the continent and could be achieved by development of infrastructure, acquisition of needed technologies for post-harvest processing and provision of affordable financing for the willing investors.Possibly, the share of Africa in agricultural commodity trade at the global level is very low compared to other continents in the short run; it may increase in the medium term, if the necessary investments are made to support the sector. But it will surely increase steadily in the long term based on reported availability of 60% of the available arable land in Africa.The efforts of FARA to foster the development of agriculture on the continent have generated a number of initiatives that could fast-track the development of the sector. The debut IAR4D concept has been proven to foster quick and higher returns from agricultural research and development efforts; while its Innovative Fund for Agricultural transformation (IFAT) has projected an innovative mechanism for extension of affordable credit to transform the smallholders to small scale enterprises. As it relates to the developing appropriate technologies, FARA is working with all stakeholders in Africa agriculture to develop the Africa Agricultural Science Agenda; this is expected to drive the direction of the Africa agricultural research for development. The role of Brazil-Africa collaboration is vital and a positive partner that is willing to aid the Africa agricultural development.
Though the African continent is undergoing significantly positive reforms and macroeconomic metamorphosis, its share of total regional trade comprises a mere 12 per cent in 2010. In fact, the continent lags behind other regions in terms of export diversification, and is actually gravitating towards further concentration in its export commodities. The general trend over the last decade is one of gradual move towards less diversification for Africa.
Against this background, in January 2012, the African Union Summit of African Heads of State and Government endorsed the theme of ‘Boosting Intra-African Trade’, paving the way towards fast-tracking a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) with a tentative timeframe of 2017. The Summit which also recognized the low level of trade between African countries, called upon Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the African Union Commission (AUC) to promote industrial development policy and value addition in order to diversify African economies and thereby move away from heavy reliance on traditional primary exports.
There are copious evidences on the direct relationship between export diversification and growth dynamics (UNECA and AUC, 2007, 2011; Karingi and Spence, 2011). Kilnger and Lederman (2006) and Cadot, Carrere and Strauss-Khan (2008) discuss that the process of diversification (as opposed to export growth) in low income countries is driven by inside the frontier innovation (emulations) and extensive expansion, suggesting that African countries should undertake new export activities if it is to succeed in diversifying its exports, but that they should be in industries in which there is already existing expertise.
In fact, some countries have struggled to diversify and orientate into new sectors due to rising commodity prices which subsequently results in an ever increasing concentration of exports, enclave economies and Dutch disease syndrome . Further, countries such as Mozambique, Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which experienced conflicts and negative diversification prospects in the past, are currently exhibiting positive diversification outcomes in more stable years.
The traditional strategy of export promotion which focuses on the international marketing of final goods appears increasingly inappropriate for African economies, but the adoption of different routes to diversification which could include resource-based manufacturing and processing of primary products. Africa needs to promote diversification by strengthening regional markets, competitiveness and economic integration. In other words, African countries need to diversify their total exports bases in order to foster better market access conditions, together with increased productivity in traditional and non-traditional crops. The creation and facilitation of such trade, and its diversification, foster economic transformation, and also reduces the risk from concentrating in very small numbers of agricultural export commodities.
Policy and Markets Analyst, FARA
Libre circulation des biens et des services! Tel est le slogan souvent prononcé par les décideurs politiques et tous acteurs en charge du développement agricole de l’Afrique pour évoquer les contraintes majeures à l’intégration et à la sécurité alimentaire aux niveaux régional et continental.
Mais, ma participation à la Sixième Semaine Scientifique de l’Agriculture Africaine (AASW6) m’amène à affirmer que c’est erroné ou très restrictif, de voir les barrières frontalières à l’intégration régionale et à la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique sous le seul angle de la libre circulation des biens et des services.
En effet, avant qu’un pays ne puisse dégager des surplus pour alimenter le marché régional, il est nécessaire que les petites producteurs, qui constituent le poumon de la production alimentaire en Afrique, aient préalablement accès à des connaissances techniques et scientifiques adéquates pour produire pour se nourrir et ensuite nourrir les autres.
Visit Ghana and ask for the phone number of any ordinary person on the street, and most likely you’ll be given the option of two or three different mobile network operators (MNOs) to choose from. Ghana has 19 million cell phone subscribers for its over 24 million inhabitants — an impressive proportion — most of whom subscribe to more than one operator.
Ghana is one of Africa’s most vibrant and innovative communications markets. It launched the first cellular mobile network in sub-Saharan Africa in 1992, and was one of the first countries on the continent to be connected to the Internet and introduce ADSL services. A market leader in terms of liberalization and deregulation, Ghana Telecom in 1996.
When things come to an end, it is inevitable that one begins to look to the future.
Several things came to an end this week: The 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) in Accra, Ghana, for one, just closed the curtains on a frenzied week of activity; Professor Monty Jones, outgoing Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), officially handed over the reins to his successor at the end of the same week; and, well, France quashed England’s run for a women’s Euros football championship with a 3-0 win, if anyone was keeping track.
The third item aside, what do these other finales mean for the future of FARA, and for the future of its most anticipated triennial event, the AASW? Continue reading
The past week was incredible. A fast paced series of event reported by a great team of social reporters brought together Africa‘s brightest in an attempt to give it the push it needs in order to reach its destiny. Even if many young people say that discussing agriculture and/or policy making is, well, boring, the AASW6 was certainly NOT.
Although I wasn’t present in Accra, Ghana for the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), my heart was there. I followed the AASW6 Blog and #AASW6 Tweets and have imagined, together with those present in Accra, a bright future for Africa.
AgInvest, a new web portal that will track resource allocation to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) by governments, development partners and other stakeholders is set to be released in 2013. The announcement was made by Joseph Karugia, the coordinator of the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System, Eastern and Central Africa (ReSAKSS-ECA), at a one day meeting held at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on Monday 15 July, 2013, to review the beta version of AgInvest.
“Tracking and mapping agriculture investments includes documenting their spatial distribution. This means getting to know where the investments are taking place physically and using that knowledge to guide decisions on future investments,” Karugia said.