Panelists at the IGD side event discuss how to achieving greater financial and service sector support for agricultural value-addition, marketing and competitive growth
Agro-industry offers enormous potential in advancing sustainable economic growth and job creation for African economies. Yet, African agribusinesses receive less than 3% of financing from the traditional banking and finance sector to power agro-industrialization across the continent.
IGD hosted a side event, “Financing African Agro-Processing Industry” on July 11-12, during the African Export-Import Bank’s annual meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on how banks can accelerate expanding access to financing for SMEs working in agro-industry. The side event was moderated by Yewande Kazeem, Founder of Wandieville Media.
Organized in partnership with the West African Bankers Association, the side event sought to highlight bold approaches to developing appropriate financing mechanisms and scaling up agricultural value chains within countries and through intra-Africa trade.
“For agro-industrialization in Africa to scale and flourish, financing is essential,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO. “The distinguished panelists at our side event shared insights and real solutions on what financial institutions must do to deliver greater access financing for small and medium-sized enterprises working in agro-industry.
Afreximbank was the Premier Sponsor and Collaborating Partner. The Platinum sponsor of the side event was Flour Mills of Nigeria and Gold sponsors were Trimble and John Deere, and Fayus Inc. Wandieville Media and Center Africa Broadcasting Network were the media sponsors.
Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, delivered a keynote address that drew attention to the Bank’s efforts to bolster financing the agro-processing industry in Africa.
A panel of leading African and global private sector leaders and investors generated action-oriented solutions on how banks can accelerate expanding access to financing for SMEs working in agro-industry by developing appropriate financing mechanisms and scaling up agricultural value chains within countries and through intra-Africa trade.
The side event also highlighted funding opportunities to bolster farm productivity through mechanization and investments in agriculture-related infrastructure, power for agriculture processing, as well as storage and logistical support.
Atusko Toda, Director of Agricultural Finance and Rural Development at the African Development Bank, acknowledged that “it’s not easy for agribusinesses to thrive, but it can be done.” Toda said financial institutions need to lower the risk for private sector companies to invest in agriculture, adding that both hard and soft infrastructure needs to be put in place to enable financial institutions to extend financing to agribusinesses.
“Why should agriculture be exciting?” asked Wilma Aguele, CEO of Wilbahi Group, an IGD Frontier Leader organization. “We think, moving forward, the public and private sectors in Nigeria are starting to realize that we must do something to remove the blight and negativity around farming communities by supporting infrastructure education, even R&D (research and development) support.
Aguele said that as the agriculture sector increasingly becomes lucrative for farmers, more young people will be attracted working in the sector. “We have to teach the children that it’s ok to be a farmer and it can afford you more financial independence in the long run… And getting the financial support is a big issue,” said Aguele. “If we can crack that, then you’ll find more young Nigerians moving back home and getting involved in their own farms.”
Toda and Aguela were joined on the panel session on “Achieving Greater Financial and Service Sector Support for Agricultural Value-Addition, Marketing and Competitive Growth” by Charles Kie, Managing Director of Ecobank, Nigeria; Abe Hughes, Ag Division Director of Trimble; and Moulay Lahcen Ennahli, Senior Vice President of West Africa for OCP Africa.
Panelists on the “Building a Sustainable and Modern Agro-Industry in Africa” panel session included Dr. Dara Akala, Executive Director of the PIND Foundation; Sadiq Usman, Director of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc; Dr. Hippolyte Fofack, Chief Economist of Afreximbank; Rasheed Sarumi, CEO of Saroafrica; and Ujwal Senapati, Managing Director of WACOT Limited.