Mteto Nyati: "we should be feeding the rest of the world.”
Commenting on Africa’s economic problems during an interview on BBC News, Mteto Nyati, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa, said the country should look at where it has comparative advantages: “We have that in agriculture; we should be feeding the rest of the world.”
In recent years, there has been a significant positive change in global investment perceptions towards agriculture in Africa, primarily due to the global race for resources and food. Many African countries have modernised their economies to provide access to foreign investment in agriculture. According to London-based Silk Investment's Patrick Lundi the company is investing in agri-processing businesses in seven Africa countries. "Africa is by far the most exciting destination for the people that we talk to, and among those are pension funds in Europe and the US."
The number of investment projects in the agricultural sector in sub-Saharan Africa is at "unprecedented" levels, Paul Runge, the Managing Director of Africa Project Access, said at an agriculture investment conference last year. "I have never seen a project flow as we have it now," he said. Africa Project Access is a specialist consultancy offering assistance to greenfield and brownfield projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Runge said it is inexplicable that agriculture investment forms such a low component of the average development finance institutional portfolio, at about 7 per cent, given that there is such a high demand for investment.
He said countries should adopt a more targeted approach and agricultural investment should be focused on products and areas where the country has the ability to add value.
AgriBusiness Africa Conference
While this is good news for African countries, implementing AgriBusiness in Africa remains challenging. Financing, logistical bottlenecks and political issues are just some of these. “Doing Successful AgriBusiness in Africa” is the theme of a one-day conference being hosted alongside Africa’s largest food and beverage Expo, Africa’s Big Seven. This conference will take place on the 19 July. AB7 takes place from 17 to 19 July at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand South Africa. The event is being hosted by agricultural intelligence company Agrifica.
“This year’s annual Agribusiness Africa Conference comes within the context of agricultural development in Africa and, with it, food security, being top priorities in the world economic scene,” explains Marianna du Plessis, spokesperson for Afgrifica. “Africa is the last continent with enormous unexploited food production potential.”
However implementing agri-business in Africa, particularly in the agricultural and agribusiness fields, presents numerous challenges unique to Africa. Managing these challenges to achieve a profitable outcome requires careful forethought and strategising based on in-depth knowledge and understanding. “The focus of this Conference will be on assisting delegates to gain such in-depth understanding of the issues to be addressed in doing business in Africa,” du Plessis adds.
Topics that will be covered are:
§ “Successfully Dealing with Agriculture and Agri-Businesses in Africa”
§ “Turning planned projects into Successful Businesses in Africa” by Paul Runge, Africa Project Access’ Managing Director
§ “Business in Africa: NOT a Business without Finance” by Conrad Hefer, Managing Director of Cresco Project Finance
§ “The Role of Government in Business Facilitation through Bi-Lateral Agreements”
§ “Market Research and Off-Take Agreements Before Doing Business in Africa” by Schalk van Vuuren, Managing Director of MSSA Research
§ “Logistics and Border Barriers” by Cyril Laubscher, Director of Business Development of IMPERIAL Logistics’ Africa Division
About Africa’s Big Seven
The annual Africa’s Big Seven (AB7), is the biggest food and beverage exhibition on the continent and provides a stage for Africa to interact with neighbouring continents on a global level. From “crop to shop”, the show provides a multi-level platform for regional and international suppliers of produce, manufacturing and processing systems, packaging, quality control and value added products and services, to showcase their products.
AB7 offers exhibitors, visitors, manufacturers, agents and industry leaders the opportunity to network, interact and ultimately form business partnerships. This major event takes place from 17 to 19 July at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Johannesburg.