News Archive September 2015

tralac’s Daily News selection: 30 September 2015

The selection: Wednesday, 30 September

Underway, in Lusaka: the African Green Revolution Forum

Launched, in Lusaka: AECF Impact Report 2014

Starting Thursday, in Kigali: 6th African Grain Trade Summit

Profiled commentary, by David Bornstein: 'Energizing the Green Revolution in Africa' (New York Times)

South Africa’s August trade data out later today (Standard Bank)

The SARS trade balance data for August is due for release today at 14h00. Bloomberg consensus pencils in a widening of the deficit to -ZAR3.4bn in August from -ZAR0.4bn in July. Our economics team’s forecast is in line with consensus at -ZAR3.4 billion. The rand is likely to remain under pressure ahead of the data release.

Zambia trade data: Imports increase to over K6bn (Daily Mail)

At regional level, Mr Kalumbi said Southern African Development Community was the largest source of Zambia’s imports accounting for 46.7% in August. Within SADC, South Africa was the major source of Zambia’s imports with 59.1%. Other notable markets were DRC, Mauritius, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Mr Kalumbi said Asia was the second largest source of imports accounting for 27.7% with China being the main market. “The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa was the third largest source of Zambia’s imports accounting for 22.1%. The European Union accounted for 10.4% with the United Kingdom imports into Zambia accounting for 30.2%,” he said.

China's slowdown: an opportunity to boost Indo-Africa ties (Observer Research Foundation)

The past few months have seen a significant deterioration in Africa’s trade balance with China. In fact, the lower forecast growth rate of 3.1% of China depicts the fragile picture affecting the dynamics of Sino-African relationship. So, what is the exact impact of the Chinese slowdown on African economies?

Carlos Lopes: 'Preparing Africa for the next trade negotiations' (UNECA)

Africans have now to do their homework. And that homework is pressing and becoming heavier. First, there is little evidence of strategic consistency between the trade policy framework and industrial policy objectives. Secondly, all too often, there is lack of policy coherence at the different level of trade negotiations, namely bilateral, regional and multilateral. Thirdly, no matter how well they are designed, trade policies have little value unless they are put to good use.

Trade in sustainable fisheries (UNCTAD/Commonwealth Secretariat)

The main difference between multilateral, regional and bilateral trade negotiations often boils down to the level of ambition in terms of the rule-setting. The speed at which bilateral and regional trade negotiations have been concluded relative to the respective rounds of negotiations under the multilateral trading system and the WTO are testimony to this. For example, 14 years of fisheries subsidies negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda have not yet produced an outcome. The Bali package agreed at the 9th WTO Ministerial is a pale reflection of what was originally envisaged in the Doha Development Agenda and round of negotiations, the first since the WTO inherited the multilateral trading system in 1995. In comparison, some 260 regional trade agreements have been notified to the WTO. [Remarks by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General Deodat Maharaj]

Improving fish post-harvest management and marketing in Malawi and Zambia (Cultivate Africa's Future Fund)

The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 (WEF)

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow close to 5%, but competitiveness and productivity remain low. This is something countries in the region will have to work on, especially as they face volatile commodity prices, closer scrutiny from international investors and population growth. Mauritius remains the region’s most competitive economy (46th), closely followed by South Africa (49th) and Rwanda (58th). Côte d’Ivoire (91st) and Ethiopia (109th) excel as this year’s largest improvers in the region overall. [Downloads available]

Higher index ranking a boost for SA (Business Day), India 55th most competitive economy, moves up 16 positions (Hindustan Times)

Global Financial Centres Index 2015 (QFC), Joburg ranked as one of the most economically powerful cities in the world (Business Tech)

Global Forum on Competition: does competition kill or create jobs? Contributions from Zambia, Kenya

Kaushik Basu: 'Development in the digital age' (World Bank)

Activities that did not even have a name till a few years ago, now overwhelm our lives. There are 4.2 billion Google searches each day. 6000 tweets go out every second. That is on average. The record is 143,199 tweets in a second on 3 August 2013, when the Japanese were excited about watching a new animation film and Tweeted about it. These are fun statistics but the underlying technologies can change our lives. That is what this World Development Report explores and we have reason to believe that it will be a very influential report. [WDR regional consultation workshop, Nairobi: the presentations]

Technical workshop on labour migration statistics for the Africa region (AU)

As international migration moves to the forefront of policy agendas, there is a corresponding interest in accurate and up-to date data and statistics. However, accurate and up-to date information on migration levels and trends is largely incomplete, notably on a special category of migrants such as migrant workers which is a focus of the JLMP. In order to better implement the JLMP, accurate data and statistics on labour migration are needed to describe, reflect and support a better understanding of what is happening and to make more policy informed decisions on all facets of labour migration. For this reason, the international labour migration data collection was launched in June 2015 by the AUC for the Africa region. [Kigali March 2015 workshop]

South Africa: Home Affairs Stakeholder Summit (GCIS)

Last year we began a total review of the out-dated 1999 White Paper on International Migration; this process is now at an advanced stage. While it would be premature to outline specific policy positions, I can promise this house and the nation at large, that we will emerge with a modern, progressive and robust policy on International Migration. It will take into account the enormous current and potential contribution of immigrants to our society, and our connectedness with the rest of the world, while minimizing associated risks and protecting our national interests.

We need you to help us move from a zero sum mentality where we view immigrants working in the country as taking opportunities from South Africans, to one which recognizes that immigrants help us grow our economy and create jobs through their contributions as purchasers of South African goods, entrepreneurs, employers, employees and taxpayers;

South Africa: Tourism and Migration June 2015 (StatsSA)

The ten leading SADC countries in terms of the number of tourists visiting South Africa in June 2015 were Zimbabwe (28‚7%); Lesotho (21‚3%); Mozambique (19‚4%); Swaziland (12‚9%); Botswana (8‚2%); Namibia (2‚9%); Zambia (2‚7%); Malawi (2‚0%); Tanzania (0‚6%) and Angola (0‚6%).

Mozambique transport minister opposed to Shire-Zambezi Waterway (AIM)

The German consultant who drew up a viability study on the Malawian government's plans to turn the Shire and Zambezi rivers into a commercial waterway for the country's imports and exports concluded that the two rivers are not navigable in their natural state, according to Mozambican Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita, cited by Radio Mozambique. Mesquita was speaking after Wednesday's meeting in Lilongwe with his Malawian and Zambian counterparts. Mesquita pointed out that the study concluded that the rivers can only be used for commercial shipping if they are dredged. This would be extremely expensive.

Working on water across borders: spillover benefits for the SDGs (World Bank Blogs)

The CIWA program is one vehicle by which the World Bank and its Water GP contribute to the implementation of SDG #6 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, the results of the program to date – US$8.9 billion in infrastructure investments influenced that will potentially benefit 48.6 million people – have contributed to progress on a number of other SDGs, demonstrating the strategic value of targeting water development interventions at the trans-boundary level. Here are three ways in which the World Bank’s work in trans-boundary waters in Africa advances the SDGs:

 TPA warns against VAT on transit goods services (IPPMedia)

Charging value added tax on transit goods’ auxiliary services will drive away clients and affect Dar es Salaam port’s competitiveness, Tanzania Ports Authority has warned. Acting Dar es Salaam Port Manager, Hebel Mhanga told The Guardian last week that many stakeholders in the business were against the tax. He said his office was coordinating their efforts to have audience with Tanzania Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Rished Bade, on the issue. Dar es Salaam Corridor Group (DCG), which has become the first casualty following failure to conclude a transit cargo shipping deal with Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority and Malawi Cargo Centre Limited because of fears of VAT on transit goods, said the worst is yet to come.

Mauritius expands freight rebate scheme (Southern Times)

Mauritius has expanded the Freight Rebate Scheme (FRS) for firms exporting to Africa, and Reunion Island to enhance the competitiveness of products from the Island to Africa vis-à-vis exports from Asia and other parts of the world, Enterprise Mauritius has said. EM said the scheme consisted of a 25 percent refund of freight costs, up to maximum of US$300 per 20ft container (standard container) for export to selected approved ports in Africa, Madagascar, and Reunion Island.

KAM signs 2yr funding pact with TMEA (Capital FM)

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers and TradeMark East Africa have signed a two-year agreement that will see an extension of a financial grant to KAM. The grant is aimed at supporting KAMs advocacy work in the area of Non Tariff Barriers, Standards and Counterfeits.

President Kenyatta woos US firms to invest in Lamu port (Daily Nation)

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday invited American firms to invest in the multibillion-shilling Lamu Port project. President Kenyatta argued that Kenya had taken measures to make it easier for investors to conduct business. He said the country had opened up opportunities for US multinationals to invest in mega infrastructure projects such as the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (Lapsset) project, which links the region.

US companies invest US$16bn in Mozambique (MacauHub)

US private investment in Mozambique exceeded US$16 billion in the past decade, the deputy minister for Foreign Affairs, Nyeleti Mondlane said Thursday in Maputo, the Mozambican press reported. The deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique also pointed out that in the last ten years, the US had positioned itself as the largest contributor to official development assistance to Mozambique, totalling about US$2 billion in multifaceted support, focused on the provinces of Sofala and Zambézia in central Mozambique, and Niassa in the north.

Reaping the benefits from global value chains (IMF)

Against the backdrop of the rise of global value chains, particularly in Asia, this paper documents key developments of GVCs and investigates what factors cause economies to reap greater benefits from GVC participation. Key findings include: first, moving toward a more upstream position in production and raising economic complexity are associated with the country increasing its share of GVC value added. Second, fostering GVC participation and expanding the share of the domestic value added in a value chain require efforts to reduce trade barriers, enhance infrastructure, foster human capital formation, support research and development, and improve institutions. [Related: Exchange rates still matter for trade (IMF)]

Exchange agreement with China could allow Angola to overcome lack of dollars (MacauHub)

Trains will link Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia (MacauHub)

Carbon pricing, divestment, and fossil fuel subsidy reform options for climate deal (ICTSD)

DEMO Africa: Scaling up African innovations for global market (Vanguard)

Foreign entry and domestic innovation (Vox)

Jomo Kwame Sundaram: 'We can overcome poverty and hunger by 2030' (IPS)

Restructuring of the Uganda National Roads Authority (EPRC)

US Chamber launches West African Business Initiative (World Stage)

Nigeria: Regional policy for accelerated infrastructure development (The Guardian)


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This post has been sourced on behalf of tralac and disseminated to enhance trade policy knowledge and debate. It is distributed to over 300 recipients across Africa and internationally, serving in the AU, RECS, national government trade departments and research and development agencies. Your feedback is most welcome. Any suggestions that our recipients might have of items for inclusion are most welcome. Richard Humphries (Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Twitter: @richardhumphri1)

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tralac’s Daily News selection: 30 September 2015

30 Sep 2015
The selection: Wednesday, 30 September Underway, in Lusaka: the African Green Revolution Forum Launched, in Lusaka: AECF Impact Report 2014 Starting Thursday, in Kigali: 6th African Grain Trade Summit Profiled commentary, by...
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‘New normal’ productivity spells uncertainty for global economy

A failure to embrace long-term structural reforms that boost productivity and free up entrepreneurial talent is harming the global economy’s ability to improve living standards, solve persistently high unemployment and generate adequate resilience for future economic downturns, according to The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, which is released today.

The report is an annual assessment of the factors driving productivity and prosperity in 140 countries. This year’s edition found a correlation between highly competitive countries and those that have either withstood the global economic crisis or made a swift recovery from it. The failure, particularly by emerging markets, to improve competitiveness since the recession suggests future shocks to the global economy could have deep and protracted consequences.

The report’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) also finds a close link between competitiveness and an economy’s ability to nurture, attract, leverage and support talent. The top-ranking countries all fare well in this regard. But in many countries, too few people have access to high-quality education and training, and labour markets are not flexible enough.

top10

First place in the GCI rankings, for the seventh consecutive year, goes to Switzerland. Its strong performance in all 12 pillars of the index explains its remarkable resilience throughout the crisis and subsequent shocks. Singapore remains in 2nd place and the United States 3rd. Germany improves by one place to 4th and the Netherlands returns to the 5th place it held three years ago. Japan (6th) and Hong Kong SAR (7th) follow, both stable. Finland falls to 8th place – its lowest position ever – followed by Sweden (9th). The United Kingdom rounds up the top 10 of the most competitive economies in the world.

In Europe, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France have made significant strides in bolstering competitiveness. Thanks to reform packages aimed at improving the functioning of markets, Spain (33rd) and Italy (43rd) climb two and six places respectively. Similar improvements in the product and labour market in France (22nd) and Portugal (38th) are outweighed by a weakening performance in other areas. Greece stays in 81st place this year, based on data collected prior to the bailout in June. Access to finance remains a common threat to all economies and is the region’s greatest impediment to unlocking investment.

Among the larger emerging markets, the trend is for the most part one of decline or stagnation. However, there are bright spots: India ends five years of decline with a spectacular 16-place jump to 55th. South Africa re-enters the top 50, progressing seven places to 49th. Elsewhere, macroeconomic instability and loss of trust in public institutions drag down Turkey (51st), as well as Brazil (75th), which posts one of the largest falls. China, holding steady at 28, remains by far the most competitive of this group of economies. However, its lack of progress moving up the ranking shows the challenges it faces in transitioning its economy.

Among emerging and developing Asian economies, the competitiveness trends are mostly positive, despite the many challenges and profound intra-regional disparities. While China and most of the South-East Asian countries performing well, the South Asian countries and Mongolia (104th) continue to lag behind. The five largest members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Malaysia (18th, up two), Thailand (32nd, down one), Indonesia (37th, down three), the Philippines (47th, up five) and Vietnam (56th, up 12) – all rank in the top half of the overall GCI rankings.

The end of the commodity super cycle has strongly affected Latin America and the Caribbean, and is already having repercussions on growth in the region. Greater resilience against future economic shocks will require further reform and investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation. Chile (35th) continues to lead the regional rankings and is closely followed by Panama (50th) and Costa Rica (52nd). Two large economies in the region, Colombia and Mexico, improve to 61th and 57th, respectively.

It’s a mixed picture in the Middle East and North Africa. Qatar (14th) leads the region, ahead of the United Arab Emirates (17th), although it remains more at risk than its neighbour to continued low energy prices, as its economy is less diversified. These strong performances contrast starkly with countries in North Africa, where the highest placed country is Morocco (72nd), and the Levant, which is led by Jordan (64th). With geopolitical conflict and terrorism threatening to take an even bigger toll, countries in the region must focus on reforming the business environment and strengthening the private sector.

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow close to 5%, but competitiveness and productivity remain low. This is something countries in the region will have to work on, especially as they face volatile commodity prices, closer scrutiny from international investors and population growth. Mauritius remains the region’s most competitive economy (46th), closely followed by South Africa (49th) and Rwanda (58th). Côte d’Ivoire (91st) and Ethiopia (109th) excel as this year’s largest improvers in the region overall.

“The fourth industrial revolution is facilitating the rise of completely new industries and economic models and the rapid decline of others. To remain competitive in this new economic landscape will require greater emphasis than ever before on key drivers of productivity, such as talent and innovation,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“The new normal of slow productivity growth poses a grave threat to the global economy and seriously impacts the world’s ability to tackle key challenges such as unemployment and income inequality. The best way to address this is for leaders to prioritize reform and investment in areas such as innovation and labour markets; this will free up entrepreneurial talent and allow human capital to flourish,” said Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Professor of Economics at Columbia University.


Background

The Global Competitiveness Report’s competitiveness ranking is based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which was introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2004. Defining competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country, GCI scores are calculated by drawing together country-level data covering 12 categories – the pillars of competitiveness – that collectively make up a comprehensive picture of a country’s competitiveness. The 12 pillars are: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.

Read more from The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 at http://wef.ch/gcr15

Pillars of competitiveness WEF GCR 2015

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Nigeria: Regional policy for accelerated infrastructure development

In recent articles we have been talking about many issues ranging from the need to create enabling environments for investment, the infrastructure challenge for Africa, the financing gap and government policy formulation process among other issues.

All the issues we have been discussing require solid policy frameworks. We discussed in the most recent article the government policy formulation process proposed by John Kingdon, Emeritus Professor at the University of Michigan, who reasoned that decision making in government follows three main streams: the problem stream, the policy stream and the political stream.

We often prefer to illustrate things with real life examples, and the most recent pdf SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap, 2015-2063 (2.34 MB)  is a good example. This was crafted in the context of existing national and regional policies and specifically the decision taken at August 2014 Summit at Victoria Falls which was held under the theme: “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”.

Decision making streams in action

In developing the SADC strategy, first was identification of the problems hindering sustainable economic development and poverty reduction in the SADC region (the problem stream). This was then followed by the Victoria Falls summit decision and the strategy development process (the policy stream), and there was overwhelming political support (the political stream). The outcome was a resounding strategy document for SADC industrialization and regional integration to be implemented in 3 phases up to 2063. The first phase lasts until 2020 focusing on laying down the foundations for long term development. The second phase, covering 30 years to 2050, constitutes a period of heavy lifting development and establishing strong momentum for competitiveness. The final third phase, covering 13 years to 2063, builds up for the convergence with the African Union long term Agenda 2063 and crossing into a fully developed country stage.

Interesting in this SADC strategy is that it identifies that accelerated industrialization is being hampered by three binding constraints – inadequate and poor quality infrastructure, a severe deficit of the skills needed for industrial development and insufficient finance. So the issue of inadequate infrastructure and lack of finance always takes centre stage. We have always argued that skills can always be imported from global partners and local people up-skilled as long as the funding is there, with an enabling policy environment and with adequate political will.

Strategy on infrastructure development policy

On infrastructure, the SADC strategy notes that increased investment in new infrastructure, soft as well as hard, allied with improved management and additional spending on maintenance, are prerequisites for industrial take-off. We have been discussing these issues in this column over the past few months. The SADC strategy hits the nail on the head in identifying these issues, the challenge remains accelerating the implementation of the strategy. To quote the strategy, it notes that Efficient and affordable infrastructural services (consisting of transport, communications, ICT, energy and water supply) are critical inputs for reducing transaction costs for industry and trade, as well as for enhancing the economic and social wellbeing of society at large. Effective implementation of the strategy would indeed require the building and/or close coordination of these services in a timely and optimal manner. To this effect, the strategy calls for

(i) enhanced access to quality infrastructure;

(ii) timely and locational availability of services to reduce input and transaction costs;

(iii) addressing the infrastructural deficits at the national and regional levels;

(iv) provision of quality infrastructure for the implementation of the Industrial Upgrading and Modernization Programme; and

(v) upgrading the transport, energy, ICT and water supply infrastructure.

The strategy notes that in tackling the infrastructure deficit through increased investment in new facilities, extra attention should be paid to maintenance and quality, as it is not just the supply of infrastructure that is constraining economic development, but the failure to provide adequate resources for the upkeep and maintenance of existing infrastructure, while ensuring that due attention is paid to the quality of infrastructure provision. The strategy then advocates that (i) the current Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) should be fast-tracked and aligned to meet the varied needs of the industrialization strategy; (ii) a strategy for leveraging the RIDMP should be developed to catalyze industrial development and reduce current high costs of doing business; and (iii) the infrastructure support programme for industrialization should be planned and implemented as a continuum, extending beyond the medium term.

Strategy on financing policy

To overcome the severe constraints imposed by the infrastructure and skills deficits, the strategy notes that governments will need to re-order their public expenditure programmes to give greater priority to public and private investment in physical infrastructure and human capital development. In part this will depend on the willingness of governments and electorates to embrace the paradigm of change in the form of a switch from consumption-led economic growth to investment-driven expansion. This is a very important paradigm shift that requires careful planning and re-orientation of both the electorate and the civil service.On domestic sources of capital, the strategy notes that existing savings and investment levels in the SADC region fall well short of what will be needed to drive structural transformation, economic diversification and poverty reduction.

Given the present and likely future state of the global economy, SADC countries cannot afford to rely on foreign savings to make good shortfalls in domestic savings, hence the need to develop the domestic sources that includes the internal fiscus, the financial sector, the capital markets, the private equity funds, the public-private partnerships, SADC Development Fund, Sovereign Wealth Funds, remittances and institutional savings including Pension Funds. The strategy recognises that exploiting the potential of these sources will require deepened financial sector reforms, innovative mechanisms and effective frameworks to maximize and sustain the high level of resources necessary for industrialization.

Alongside this, we believe that foreign direct investment plays a critical role early in the process. We noted in the most recent article on government policy formulation process that Finance Ministers will need to work very closely with the global financial network to tap into both existing and new and innovative ways of financing for projects. It will be practically impossible for the SADC industrialsation strategy to succeed in its objectives within the envisaged timeframe without taping into the global financial resources. Initially, external funding will be needed to address the bottlenecks. Key to attracting this external capital is creating an enabling environment, a theme that we have always repeated.

The SADC strategy notes that Governments’ central roles is the creation of enabling policies and regulatory environments for accelerated industrialization with a particular focus on tackling the binding constraints of infrastructure, skills development and financing. Once again, the SADC strategy hits the nail on the head and political will should lead to accelerated infrastructure development to support industrialization.

Nigeria seems well placed to lead regional integration in West Africa starting with sorting out key policy issues at home.

Russell Duke is Chairman and Managing Principal at National Standard Finance, LLC. Michael Tichareva is Principal and Managing Director of Africa operations at National Standard Finance, LLC.

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African Green Revolution Forum to elevate role of youth and women in agriculture

Leaders target investments and polices for African farmers and enterprises to meet rising food demand in an urbanizing Africa

The rapid rise of urban food markets across sub-Saharan Africa represents an unparalleled opportunity to drive development of African agriculture, and ultimately to engage millions of youth who enter the continent’s labor market each year, according to conveners of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which began on 29 September 2015 in Lusaka, Zambia.

More than 500 leaders from over 40 countries are expected to attend the AGRF, including high-level government officials, leaders of pan-African development organizations, representatives of youth and women’s organizations, academic experts, investors and agriculture business innovators.

“The AGRF can generate huge momentum for policies and programs that support Africa’s farmers and African-owned agriculture businesses to capture a bigger stake in the agricultural sector and rising urban markets,” said Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary General, Common Market of East and Southern Africa. “Rather than meeting this demand through food imports, Africans need to grow, process, package and market the food consumed in our rapidly growing cities and towns.”

AGRF 2015 comes at a time when there is a growing consensus that rapid growth in all aspects of agriculture is crucial, both for food security and also because the sector is uniquely capable of rapidly generating economic and employment opportunities at all income levels across sub-Saharan Africa.

Agriculture is viewed as particularly promising for African women who produce 80 percent of the region’s food – their manual labor directly feeding their families and communities – and for the 200 million Africans under 25 who make Africa the world’s youngest continent.

The theme of this year’s AGRF is “Walking the Talk on Youth and Women: Bringing Inclusive Agricultural Markets to Life.” It comes at a time when Africa’s young population is searching for increased employment and meaningful opportunities. Of the 10 million young Africans who enter the job market every year, only a minority find formal employment.

“The African Union in 2014 pointed to the potential for agriculture-related jobs to employ at least 30 percent of African youth. Yet many young Africans are pessimistic about agriculture, because they see too many farmers and agriculture businesses struggling to survive,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, president of AGRA. “The good news is that economic opportunities in agriculture are much bigger than many realize, and with the right kinds of support, Africa's rapidly growing food sector can become as much as a $1 trillion source of a wide array of financially rewarding opportunities for Africa’s youth, on and off the farm."

AGRF 2015 also comes during the African Union designated “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development.”

“Agriculture is the largest employer of women, employing up to 90 percent of women in some African countries,” said H.E. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, African Union. “Women anchor rural economies. Yet they farm without secure land rights, remuneration or the machinery and technologies essential to commercial agriculture. Policies and programs that address these gaps and link rural farmers to urban markets can transform livelihoods for smallholder farmers.”

The AGRF 2015 will define clear strategies to enable youth and women to engage in agriculture as a business enterprise and generate a triple dividend of improved food security, increased incomes and job creation. It will delve into issues including access to land, finance, energy and inputs, and the development of infrastructure, trade and markets, all with a particular eye toward overcoming challenges and expanding opportunities for women and youth.

AGRF will strive to call its partners and stakeholders to align themselves to measure, track and report their own progress at subsequent AGRFs in support of country priorities and African Union’s 2014 Malabo commitments, which pushed for accelerated agricultural growth. In the Declaration last June, African heads of state called for the doubling of food productivity in Africa, halving of poverty and significant progress toward the elimination of child undernutrition by 2025.

“The government of Zambia is honored to host this year’s AGRF, said the Hon. Given Lubinda, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Zambia “Together we will map the policies and investments needed to build a sustainable, diversified and competitive agricultural sector that assures food and nutrition security, creates jobs, and maximizes the sector’s contribution to Africa’s growth.”

The sponsors of the AGRF – the AGRF Partners Group, the Government of Zambia and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) – will engage with thought leaders from Africa and the world to shape policies and practices that can make the most from Africa’s once neglected but now rapidly expanding agriculture business sectors.

AGRA will be releasing its annual Africa Agricultural Status Report, providing a framework for how agriculture can become a viable and lucrative option for Africa’s young entrepreneurs.

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