AFRICA – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has continued to garner support from key financiers and developers in the establishment of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) across the region.
During the first partnership meeting, the parties unanimously agreed that the initiative can trigger a fundamental change in Africa’s economic transformation.
The gathering brought together representatives from development finance institutions, private developers of Special Economic Zones, and other key global and regional players in Africa’s agri-business sector to share insights on how agro-industrialization can create massive job opportunities, boost agricultural productivity, generate wealth and improve the quality of life for people across the continent.
Present during the session was African Export-Import Bank; Industrial Development Corporation; Africa Finance Corporation; Trade and Development Bank; OPEC Fund for International Development; Africa 50; West African Development Bank; Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa; Islamic Development Bank, and International Fund for Agricultural Development.
The participants agreed to work together under a cooperation framework for SAPZ implementation in Africa, under the leadership of the AfDB.
“The value of the agribusiness sector is expected to reach US$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,” said Ahmed Bennis, Secretary-General, Africa Economic Zones Organization.
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.
“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.
SAPZs are a flagship initiative of the AfDB’s ‘Feed Africa’ strategic priority, aimed to provide end-to-end solutions and services that de-risk production, processing, and marketing operations of private sector actors as they boost manufacturing and transformation capacity in production areas.
The end result is improved livelihoods for millions in the rural areas as well as a reduction in poverty.
Bank Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization at the Bank, Solomon Quaynor, said, “If we are going to create jobs, we need to enable the private sector to thrive. Overall, it is about industrializing Africa.”
Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, encouraged partners to work together on an implementation model for SAPZs, making a case for renewable energy to ensure optimal benefit.
The framework would also ensure that each Zone attracts the right investment, is implemented to high standards, and avoids unpredictable risks like political setbacks.