[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Catalyzing private investments in agriculture
The recent decision by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to open an office serving the East and Southern African regions is a pointer to the crucial role farmers play in the region play in the East African, continental and global food systems.
In East and Southern Africa, agriculture is the largest sector, employing 65 per cent of the labour force and accounting for over 30 per cent of the region's GDP. Maize, wheat, rice, millet, potatoes and cassava are the main agricultural trade commodities, generating an estimated annual trade revenue of US$50 billion. Unfortunately, there has been a decline in agricultural production triggered by shocks such as climate change, COVID-19 and conflicts.
Last month, African Development Bank, AfDB, supported construction of two road projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo that would open up major agricultural areas in the DRC.
To address the serious post-harvest losses alongside other issues such as low productivity, access to finance and markets in Tanzania, the Kasulu District Council has partnered with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to construct a crop aggregation center in Mvugwe village to aggregate cassava, maize and beans from small-scale farmers in the district. The Mvugwe aggregation centre is a one-stop shop for buyers and sellers/farmers.
At the same time, CDC Group, the UK’s impact investor and development finance institution (DFI), recently announced a commitment to invest over $1 billion again in African businesses with the agriculture sector in East Africa among the beneficiaries.
In the region’s banking and financial sector, Ethiopia’s financial markets have been boosted by a series of announcements and commitments by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa, a specialist development agency working to strengthen financial markets across sub-Saharan Africa.
The announcements were made as part of a week-long visit led by senior leaders from the UK-Aid funded agency in collaboration with partners.
Equity Bank Rwanda PLC and FSD Africa recently launched a Financial Inclusion for refugees (FI4R) programme that aims to provide financial services to over 90,000 refugees in Rwanda.
Through the programme, refugees will be able to access mobile banking & agency banking services like opening accounts, receiving, and sending money, saving, digital loans, insurance and others through unstructured service data (USSD) channels.
On sustainability matters, a group of leading financial institutions from across Africa has come together with Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI), and the UK-funded financial sector development agency FSD Africa as founding members of the African Natural Capital Alliance (ANCA).
The alliance, in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), will act as an African-led collaborative forum for mobilizing the financial community’s response to nature-related risks and opportunities across the continent.
Del Monte, Kenya’s largest producer and exporter of pineapple products and fruit beverages has stated its commitment to safeguarding the environment and the earth during the World Environment Day celebrations. The company has partnered with Murang’á County Government to plant 1,000 trees at Maragua Primary school as part of its commitment to plant 2.5 million trees by 2025 to tackle climate change.
Airtel Kenya, a subsidiary of Airtel Africa, has reiterated its commitment to promoting the recycling of electronic waste across the firm by building awareness among staff and partners, as well as providing safe disposal mechanisms.
During this year’s World Environment Day, staff of Airtel Kenya brought electronic waste from their homes for safe disposal. The initiative is part of Airtel Africa’s sustainability strategy and aims to eliminate hazardous waste, while significantly reducing non-hazardous waste.
Elsewhere, shared mobility provider Swvl has announced that it is pausing its daily and city to city rides in Kenya. The mass transit and shared mobility provider has been offering three services in the country, this includes SWVL Daly, City-City and Business-Business.