President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina has called on African countries to leverage the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by prioritising agro-industrialisation.
The AfDB President made this remark at a virtual conference to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sahel Group themed “Zero Hunger: Africa’s Private Sector Driving Innovation and Growth”
AfCFTA was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement on March 21, 2018, to deepen regional integration across the continent and allow the free movement of people and trade across borders.
It is currently the world’s largest Free Trade Area since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was formed, accounting for a market of over 1.2 billion people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3 trillion.
Adesina, who harped on the need for Africa’s economic growth said that countries must begin to increase food production through agro-industrialisation that supports smallholder farmers and the private sector.
He also lauded Sahel Capital for its hard work in transforming the agriculture sector, through its effective management of the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), a private equity fund for small and medium-sized agribusinesses.
On his part, Managing Partner and Co-founder of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition Ltd highlighted the importance of the partnership among stakeholders to achieve food targets.
According to him, the engagement of stakeholders across the food ecosystem including entrepreneurs, policymakers, youth, and farmers was necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of zero hunger by 2030.
Speaking also, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Agnes Kalibala urged stakeholders not to relent on their commitment to food security.
Kalibala asserted that Africa’s private sector handles 80 percent of food consumed on the continent and 48 percent of food consumed in urban areas.
She praised African entrepreneurs as dynamic and vibrant, encouraging stakeholders to appreciate their input in improving Africa’s agriculture and nutrition landscape.
Echoing Kalibala’s thought, Executive Director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Lawrence Haddad that small and medium-sized enterprises must be investor-ready and fully aware of the finance mechanism available to them to improve their businesses.
He added that the future of Africa’s food system is hinged on developing new models to circumvent challenges faced in Europe and other western countries.
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