IVORY COAST – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has partnered with a number of organisations with a goal to boost the contribution of the food and culinary sector in Africa, thereby creating jobs and improving the economies across the Continent

The Bank, through an online initiative, is advocating closer linkages between development partners and policy-makers to enhance Africa’s largely informal sector’s contribution to building the continent’s food and cuisine value chain.

“We have looked at the culinary potential of African food in the creation of jobs and helping us to deal with the challenge of youth unemployment,” said Basil Jones, Gender Programme and Policy Coordinator at the Bank, on the sidelines of a B2B meeting on AfDB’s ENABLE Youth platform: The Economics of Food Cuisine’ at the 7th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which was held in early September 4-8, 2017 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

“This investment in growing Africa’s culinary culture could become our trademark to stimulate the tourism sector. It would also go towards strengthening Africa’s emerging cultural identity in the international scene,” he added.

The Economics of Food Cuisine Knowledge-Sharing initiative is part of the Bank’s ENABLE Youth Program that intends to balance and support the AfDB’s High 5 priorities, especially the Jobs for Youth and Industrialization programs.

According to AfDB, looking at more downstream activities such as the food service and gastronomy industry, the African food and cuisine offers a different entry point into agricultural value chains.

The goal of the platform is to enhance the viability of food entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, seeking to start and grow a food-related business through knowledge-sharing; mentorship services.

It will also offer skills development and access to finance by linking the platform to crowdfunding schemes targeting agri-businesses.

“The Food Cuisine initiative is the unique combination of an on-the-ground business capacity support and network building program combined with a one-stop-shop digital platform.

It connects, informs and enables Africa’s fast-growing community of agri-food professionals,” said Marnix Van Holland, Program Development Manager, Hivos International, one of the partners.

The Bank estimates that Africa’s culinary industry is currently valued at US$313 billion, while the food and beverage market is projected to reach US$1 trillion by 2030.

The Bank aims to empower the African food community, support young entrepreneurs, connect food innovators and provide a platform to showcase new products from the continent.

The online platform targets stakeholders in the food industry to offer young women and men operating in the agricultural value chains the opportunity to pursue diverse careers in this sector, providing vocational training, financial literacy, access to resources and networks.

The platform will also offer users an online business management tool allowing entrepreneurs a chance to develop their business plan within the shortest period at no cost.

The online platform will integrate with existing e-commerce and crowdfunding platforms across the continent to promote intra-African trade by showcasing and exposing agri-food to a larger African audience, according to Vuyo Tofile, Founder of Entbanc Group, which is managing the platform.