U.S., African and global business and government leaders gathered to discuss opportunities for establishing efficient special crops processing zones and agro-industrial parks at the Leadership for Agriculture (L4Ag) Forum.
Washington, D.C. – November 16, 2018 – African, US and global business and government leaders convened on November 6th in Johannesburg, South Africa for the African Development Bank’s 2018 Annual Leadership4Agriculture (L4Ag) Forum to discuss plans to spur growth through special economic zones, agro-industrial parks and transport corridors for the continent’s economic transformation.
The invitation-only L4Ag Forum, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation in collaboration with the Initiative for Global Development (IGD), was held prior to the Bank’s first African Investment Forum, which took place in Johannesburg on November 7-9.
Some 100 public and private sector leaders gathered for dialogue, advocacy and policy actions on accelerating agribusiness growth, increasing public and private sector investment in agro-industrialization on the theme, “Advancing Bold Leadership for Africa’s Agribusiness Investment: Scaling Up Industrial Parks and Special Crops Processing Zones.”
Moderated by Dr. Daniel Karanja, IGD Vice-President for Programs and Advisory, panel sessions with private sector leaders offered recommendations for African Ministers on designing and financing competitive staple crops processing zones; investing in transport corridors and logistics; and boosting agricultural investments through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).
Conceived by the Rockefeller Foundation during its 2013 centennial celebrations, the L4Ag platform is an informal peer-to-peer network where African Ministers of Agriculture and Finance can strategize on mobilizing investments and private sector partners and gain knowledge on best practices to fuel productivity and efficiency growth in Africa’s agriculture sector. “The ministers have told us and the secretariat that we need to move into action,” asserted Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director for Africa at the Rockefeller Foundation. “What they need are concrete recommendations on what works and what they can take up for action in their countries.” The Rockefeller executive added that African Ministers also want to know “not only what works but what is proven to not work, so they cannot repeat the same mistakes.”
This year’s L4Ag Forum sought to build on previous sessions to identify concrete recommendations and actionable solutions to scale up agro-industrialization in the continent. The L4Ag Forum launched a major convening with public and private sector leaders in late-November 2017 at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on harnessing greater support and investments for agribusiness growth in African countries.
In 2018, two high-level L4Ag panel sessions were held at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in May in Busan, South Korea, and at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Forum (AGRF) in September in Kigali, Rwanda.
During the discussions in Johannesburg, leadership from both the public sector and the private sector was identified as very critical to enhancing agricultural productivity and value addition of raw crops and minerals that are often exported out by African countries, thereby generating more new local jobs, including in rural areas, said Jennifer Blanke, Vice-President Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the African Development Bank Group. “Processing has to be private sector led,” emphasized Blanke. She announced that the Bank aims to invest $500 million in staple crops processing zones. “We’re betting on this as a way of government and private sector working together to transform Africa and create huge opportunities.”
Amina Moghe Hersi, CEO of Uganda-based Horal Investment Holding Company Ltd. and Nicola Galombik, Executive Director of South Africa–based Yellowwoods, the investment holding company of Nandos and several other financial and hospitality sector businesses, advocated for strong government support to the private sector while leaving room for the private sector to thrive. Ms. Hersi passionately shared her own experience working with the Government of Uganda to develop a new sugar factory in Northern Uganda. However, “there’s a fine balancing act between government support, but we need to calibrate it correctly in moving forward,” to avoid choking-off the private sector as has happened in a number of countries, warned Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, President of AfricaGlobal and former IGD President and CEO.
Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agro-industry at the African Development Bank, said the L4Ag platform and network is ready to tackle key priority issues to transform Africa’s agriculture sector in scaling up special crops processing zones and forward-thinking “on how to go from talking to real action.”
“The future for Africa is great and very exciting. The time for change is not tomorrow, it’s actually now. Now is the time for action. No more empty talk. Let’s go for action. Let’s go for solutions,” said Karanja, in wrapping up the daylong forum. An action-oriented outcomes report highlighting forum sessions and actions from the public-private sector roundtables will be produced in early-December.
Photos from the event can be found here: L4Ag Photo Album
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