Last week from 8 – 10 May leading business, government and global development experts from around the world were in Cape Town for the World Economic Forum on Africa.
This year the theme of the forum was “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, with an expected annual economic growth of 5% in 2012-13, Africa has the potential to transform its economic situation by improving internal and external trade markets to develop a platform to lift people out of poverty.
Attendees at the event included:
One of the key sessions from the event focused on the role agriculture has to play in African development, Agriculture: Investing in Transformation explored the necessity of investing in African agriculture and addressed why partnerships must be at the forefront of accelerating investments in agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria stated in the session that:
Agriculture is going to be the lifeline for Africa.”
Philip Kiriro, President and Chairman of the East Africa Farmers Federation, agreed by highlighting the current transformation in the perception of African agriculture, saying:
we are now seeing agriculture as a business, rather than a philanthropic or social sector.”
Treating agriculture as a business was a central theme throughout the World Economic Forum in Africa, as attendees discussed the need to build capacity for smallholder farmers to access global trading markets in order to retain a sustainable income.
This was further exemplified at the launch of The Africa Competitiveness Report from the World Bank, World Economic Forum and African Development Bank.
The report highlights the necessity of translating the current growth in the African economy to a growth in living standards, as “this is imperative if the continent is to take advantage of its historic opportunity to end poverty and embrace shared prosperity.”
The report goes on to say that Africa’s high economic growth rates and largely agriculture-based economy provide a “unique opportunity” for growth across the continent.
As the majority of sessions at the World Economic Forum in Africa and the African Competitiveness Report agree, growth in the continent is currently stunted by insufficient infrastructure, lack of access to markets and fragmented connections between traders, often preventing farmers from reaching healthy profits.
What is evident from the World Economic Forum is that agriculture is been accepted as an answer to alleviate poverty but more cooperation, investments and knowledge must be shared to enable those at the beginning of the supply chain to gain a sustainable living.