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As project sponsors, borrowers, lenders and investors gathered at the Africa Investment Forum to make deals on investment opportunities, leaders of the continent’s top agribusiness companies shared their thoughts on the future of the industry

agribusiness 13Agribusiness can also promote industrialisation and urban employment. (Image source: CIFOR/Flickr)

Africa’s agribusiness sector is predicted to reach US$1 trillion by 2030. Agribusiness will become the ‘new oil’ on the continent, African Investment Forum participants said, fuelling the motor of inclusive growth.

Jennifer Blanke, vice-president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for agriculture, human and social development, said, “Understand that by transforming Africa’s agriculture sector it will become the engine that drives Africa’s economic transformation through increased income, better jobs higher on the value chain, improved nutrition and so on.”

Some agribusiness leaders said there is a need to invest US$45bn per year to harness the power of agriculture and move up the value chain to create jobs and wealth. At present, only US$7bn is invested in the sector.

Participants in the agribusiness session discussed the industry’s entire value chain. Leading the ‘fireside chat’ was a roundtable of experts that included Aliko Dangote, president and CEO of the Dangote Group; Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, minister of finance of Nigeria; William Asiko, CEO, Grow Africa; John George Coumantaros, chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria and TP Nchocho, CEO, Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa.

“We need to do the research to produce the right solutions to the issues we might face along the value chain. Youth are particularly involved in this aspect as they know how to develop tools addressing issues such as water management and release,” said Aliko Dangote.

Agribusiness can also promote industrialisation and urban employment, break the ‘productivity gap’ of development, and improve the quality of life for all Africans. Attendees said Africa’s agricultural potential needs to be unlocked.

Session participants said they want to bring African agriculture to the next level. For the small and medium scale farmers, the main challenge remains access to finance.

In closing the session, Edward Mabaya, manager of agribusiness development at the AfDB, highlighted the vast investment opportunities in Africa’s agribusiness including seed, fertilizer, mechanization, processing and storage.