The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
We are living in a critical time in human history, where stereotypes and traditional approaches are no longer sustainable. A time characterised by drastic and rapid changes across all spheres of human endeavour. It is also the time for the most flaunted 4th Industrial Revolution. In my view, it is also Africa’s time. It’s the continent’s time to take advantage of its demographic bulge and natural resources.
For Africa’s time to be a reality, this shift has to be proactive and pragmatic across critical sectors such as agriculture. The potential of a continent which hosts the largest share of uncultivated arable land in the world (79%), at a time marked by growing global food demand and shrinking global agricultural supply was highlighted in both the 2011 and 2019 Ibrahim Forum reports.
Beyond meeting needs, the wealth potential of agriculture on the continent needs to be harnessed. The following are ways in which this could be achieved.
Foster innovation, create and adopt technology (iOT) and data solutions across and beyond the value chain. Set up Agro-Technology Incubation Hubs. According to the 2019 Ibrahim Forum report, “Harnessing new technologies could allow the sector to become a part of the 'high-tech' economy, making it more attractive to young people, paving the way for greater specialisation in the division of labour in agriculture and moving progressively away from mere subsistence farming.” This report further highlights how several simple technologies could solve some of the main challenges currently faced by African farmers, which including access to markets; access to updated technologies and research; knowledge of commodity prices; early warning systems on weather and pests.
Agribusiness Ecosystem (New Agribusiness Strategy)
Building a data-driven ecosystem around agriculture and agribusiness is essential to wealth creation. This entails launching various platforms that will support professionalisation of agriculture in Africa while generating actionable data/business intelligence that will accelerate value chains. This strategy will enable young farmers, agro cooperative societies, small scale and commercial agribusinesses, and other critical stakeholders to work using globally accepted standards and practices. This proposed ecosystem will trigger the use of collective resources to work in alliance with local and international collaborators. The ecosystem will nurture and harness measurable, reliable and verifiable data through joint research, educational and training initiatives and projects while mobilising support for agricultural research and schemes that advance sustainable wealth creation on the African continent. This new narrative summarises the vision of my project Rebranding Agriculture in Africa®. In the coming weeks we hope to launch this auspicious project in partnership with critical industry stakeholders and development partners. This project will usher in a new milestone for agricultural development and a perfect transition from meeting needs to creating much needed wealth.
Raise and equip a new breed of young modern farmers
Young people are central to wealth creation in Africa, they are the continent’s greatest asset. It’s time to ignite the ingenuity of the youth towards modern agriculture.
Launch a strategic global campaign to reposition agriculture in Africa
Wealth creation through agriculture in Africa requires continental public enlightenment, awareness and sensitisation. This will be achieved through ingenious communication tools that cut across rural-urban divides. It’s a campaign that will drive not just modern agriculture but also expose new approaches for wealth creation through this sector. Public-private partnership is integral to this robust initiative.
Going beyond meeting needs to creating wealth requires an aggressive agribusiness approach.
To achieve Africa’s time, we must go beyond expecting opportunities to creating them in order to generate wealth for the continent. A good time to take advantage was yesterday but the good news is that the best time to take charge is now.
Africa’s time is the new normal for radical development and growth. I implore all Africans to raise the bar and heed the clarion call as we rebrand agriculture in Africa now!