THERE is an emerging trend across Africa, where special agro-industrial processing zones are being set up, however, Namibia is still absent from this hype.
The dream is to see more incentivised value addition to agricultural produce.
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), if rolled out well, incentives in agriculture can trigger a fundamental change in Africa’s economic transformation.
Last month, the bank brought together various participants at the first partnership meeting for agro-industrialisation.
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 agribusiness sector.
The cluster shared insights on how agro-industrialisation can create massive job opportunities, boost agricultural productivity, generate wealth and improve the quality of life for people across the continent.
Participants agreed to work together under a cooperation framework for the implementation of the special agro-industrial processing zones (SAPZs) in Africa, under the leadership of AfDB.
“The value of the agribusiness sector is expected to reach US$1 trillion by 2030… Those of us working in the economic zones sector will work closely with the African Development Bank initiative on this huge opportunity,” said Ahmed Bennis, secretary general of the Africa economic zones organisation.
Three AfDB vice presidents addressed the virtual gathering, detailing the bank’s strategy for scaling up employment opportunities and income generation through SAPZs.
“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 roadmap towards agro-industrialisation on the continent,” said Beth Dunford, the bank’s vice president for agriculture.
“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.
The bank’s executive for the private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation, Solomon Quaynor, said, “If we are going to create jobs, we need to enable the private sector to thrive. Overall, it is about industrialising Africa.”
Kevin Kariuki, the bank’s executive 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 benefits.