Participants at the first partnership meeting for agro-industrialisation in Africa, which held on Monday September 20th, believe that the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) initiative of the African Development Bank could trigger fundamental change in Africa’s economic transformation.
During the meeting, representatives from development finance institutions, private developers of Special Economic Zones, and other key global and regional players in Africa’s agri-business sector shared insights on how agro-industrialization can create massive job opportunities, boost agricultural productivity and generate wealth.
The participants also agreed to work together under a cooperation framework for SAPZ implementation in Africa, under the leadership of the African Development Bank. The Secretary-General of the Africa Economic Zones Organization, Ahmed Bennis, said: “the value of the agribusiness sector is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030…Those of us working in the economic zones sector will work closely with the African Development Bank initiative on this huge opportunity”.
Three AfDB Vice Presidents addressed the virtual gathering, detailing the Bank’s strategy for scaling up employment opportunities and income generation through SAPZs.
“The stakes are extremely high: during this week of the UN Food Systems Summit, we stakeholders in Africa’s growth and development need to form a common vision on a road map towards agro-industrialization on the continent. At the African Development Bank, we believe that turnkey projects, such as Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones, are crucial to development. They bring together the ecosystem in regional value chains and key commodities, bringing together production, post-harvest, logistics, and processing to feed Africa’s growing cities and export to the world in a sustainable, green, and affordable way,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.
Note that SAPZs are intended to focus on agro-processing activities in areas with high levels of agricultural potential. They enable farmers, agricultural producers, processors, aggregators, and distributors to work together in one location, lowering transaction costs and sharing business development services to boost productivity and competitiveness.