March 21 – Human Rights Day in South Africa

The commemoration of Human Rights Day in South Africa is a reminder to all of us on the African continent to ensure that no one gets left behind.

As we continue to make strides towards attaining the aspirations enshrined in Agenda 2063, our continent’s vision for ‘The Africa We Want,’ we first and foremost recognise the fact that all human beings are equal. This is echoed in South Africa’s Bill of Rights that protects everyone’s right to life, equality and human dignity.

On this day, South Africans are called upon to reflect on their rights and to protect their rights. South Africans are also asked to reflect on the rights of all people in their country from violation, irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, whether they are foreign nationals or not, as human rights apply to everyone, and this application should be without prejudice or discrimination.

Africa’s Agenda 2063 defines the vision for a continent, whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its youth and women. It goes without saying then, that even as the African Union calls on everybody to commit to achieving the elimination of harmful cultural and traditional practices, and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes, recognising the role played especially by women and youth, and upholding their rights is key to transforming our continent.

South Africa’s history – and  in particular the happenings of 1960 in Sharpeville when a group of 10 000 people peacefully marched and protested against the pass system – reminds us that human rights at times come at a high cost.  Peace and freedom should now be enjoyed by all in the country as well as in the rest of the continent, and not taken for granted.

Let us then continue to work together in building ‘The Africa We Want’ by first protecting and cherishing the human rights of each and every African citizen!


Op-ed by Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of IPU, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Agency and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN)


Johannesburg, 08 March 2018 – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, three African leaders and activists, Martin Chungong, Cameroonian Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, former Prime Minister of Niger and CEO of NEPAD Agency, and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), come together to celebrate rural and urban crusaders who have transformed women’s lives and call for more activists to speak up for gender equality to fight malnutrition across Africa.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate not only all women, but especially the activists – rural and urban, men and women – who are transforming women’s lives. Right now, women and men across Africa are part of a movement sweeping across the world for women’s rights, equality and justice.
You do not have to look far to see – or hear – women on the continent slowly breaking the silence, joining the #MeToo campaign on social media, raising their voices in unison alongside many men and against the status quo, organising for better representation in decision-making and demanding land rights and equal pay for work of equal value.
However, with the increase in hunger and food insecurity seen last year across parts of sub-Saharan Africa – for the first time in decades – there are few rights as important to our future survival as the right to adequate food and good nutrition. This will not happen unless each woman and man, girl and boy is equally valued and has the same access to food. This means that, when we move from thinking to acting on nutrition and food security, we must also think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Throughout history, activism in Africa has yielded enormous results. Many women have fought for justice for women before us. Today this is not only a moral duty, it is the smart thing to do. Recently, countries such as Senegal and Tunisia have made strides in ensuring equal rights for both women and men. Rwanda has secured the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world, whilst women in Liberia and South Sudan have been at the forefront of peace and reconciliation efforts. In the words of Nelson Mandela – our ‘own’ Madiba – whose 100th birthday we will celebrate later this year, “freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”. Sadly, no country has achieved this freedom yet.

Where there is food insecurity, rural women and girls are disproportionally affected and more likely to experience the multiple burdens of malnutrition. They are often tasked with making sure every family and community member reaps the benefits of the best possible food and nutrients available and are involved at each stage of the food value chain – from farm to fork.
Although there are no large differences in the number of malnourished girls versus boys under five years old, the difference in power between males and females really becomes visible as girls reach adolescence. Malnourished mothers, especially those who have not attended secondary school, are more likely to give birth to malnourished girls and boys, perpetuating a vicious intergenerational cycle – with devastating effects for the brain power of the continent.

It is widely accepted that good nutrition is a maker and marker of sustainable development. What we now know is that gender equality is a maker and marker of good nutrition. With this knowledge, the main message we have for policy-makers, leaders and activists all over Africa is to scale up investments in women for better nutrition and food security everywhere. Yet, without empowering lawmakers to unblock resources from national budgets and putting in place the necessary means and policies in support of women and girls, no initiative will succeed.

Yesterday, we gathered together to address a high-level event of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Johannesburg. This Alliance has been tasked with ensuring that food security and nutrition remain at the highest level of both political and legislative agendas. We brought together a regional platform for African Members of Parliament to make sure that women’s and girls’ rights, needs and agency are at the front and centre of all actions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind. Recently, the publication Nature estimated that no single African country is set to end childhood malnutrition by 2030, due to large disparities within countries themselves. This is in spite of the fact that most African countries, especially much of sub-Saharan Africa and eastern and southern regions, have shown improvements.

As members of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement – a voluntary push for better nutrition which today counts 60 countries, many of whom are African – we know that successful nutrition approaches are those that have sought to address and eliminate gender inequalities. Much of the reduction in hunger worldwide between 1970 and 1995 is a result of improvements in women’s status and access to decision-making, including in parliaments. We know that if we give a girl access to secondary schooling, more than 25 per cent fewer girls and boys will be stunted, and will be able to develop normally. The evidence is clear. Now is the time to act.

International Women’s Day is not just a celebration but a reminder to us to remain activists in our own right, not only as heads of agencies which promote equality, but also as individuals. Together, let us empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and make improved nutrition a reality.

We commit to scaling up women’s rights and nutrition activism in Africa, and beyond. And hope you will do the same. The #TimeisNow for the #TheAfricaWeWant.

African States’ Fragility and resilience

If we want things to move forward and improve, especially for the economic and social development of our people, we sometimes have to recognize our weaknesses. One of the most important today is the weakness of the State in most of our countries. This weakness can quickly turn into fragility, as we have seen with phenomena as different as the Ebola virus, or the progression of Boko Haram, not to mention the management of the consequences of global warming.

The weaker or fragile a state is, the more likely it is to be overwhelmed by events and unable to cope with the large-scale challenges it faces. The question of the resilience of our states is therefore very meaningful and relevant. It is necessary to give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s : the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been a pioneer in the field of fragility of States under the presidency of Donald Kaberuka by creating a Department directly responsible for these issues. Initially the focus was on States in transition, especially post-conflict, but gradually shifted to the concept of more general resilience and taking into account more scenarios that our States face.

In January 2017, the AfDB organized with success its first Forum on Resilience in Africa. It had made it possible to analyze various situations of fragility present on the continent, but also to note a major fact: the continent is progressing, and some extremely fragile states manage to consolidate. Another observation that logically follows the first is that fragility can precisely derive resilience that can therefore lead to the stability of our states. We just have to recognize our weaknesses.

Last year’s recommendations included the need to forge stronger, competency-based partnerships to make interventions more effective; and “to respond in a concerted manner to the needs of people at the bottom of the poverty pyramid by providing early interventions at the community level in situations of fragility, in order to ensure greater inclusion while giving hope to the most vulnerable”.

It is precisely on the theme “Building resilience – reaching those at the bottom of the pyramid” that the second edition of the African Resilience Forum (ARF), is to be held in Abidjan on February 8th and 9th, 2018. The objective of this new meeting is to share knowledge on new approaches to provide development support in fragile environments. It is also about designing a platform to present innovative solutions and new technologies to provide essential services to the communities that need it most.

The “bottom-up” approach is favoured here, in contrast to what is usually practiced, namely large and  highly centralized national programs whose effect is not always felt by the poorest. This approach is based on the needs of the grassroots to try to improve the situation of the most fragile communities by ensuring that they participate in the definition of solutions. To do this I think it is necessary to develop new types of partnerships, to better mobilize the national resources of each of our States towards a development at the community level, knowing that the reality of development is first local.

For my part, I would also like to see in this endeavour, the direct involvement of the private sector with which partnerships are also possible, to achieve these objectives.

In memory of Pr. Calestous Juma

I would like to formally pay my respect one last time to my dear friend Calestous Juma who passed away last week. Of course, my first thoughts go to his family and friends. But I think they won’t be the only ones deeply affected by his passing.

For a whole generation, and maybe for future generations of leaders, he was an exceptional teacher and thinker as well as one of the shining lights of Africa in the intellectual sphere. Famous for his good spirits and readiness to help out others, he was as charming and charismatic as he was demanding. His vision was one of openness and sound debate.

But although he was one of the most optimistic people I had the chance to meet, he did not take a rose tinted view of Africa’s place in the world, be it from an economic or political standpoint. For instance, he was noticeably quick to pinpoint shortcomings in the conventional narrative about Africa, either overpessimistic or overoptimistic.

His greatest works such as In Land We Trust or Innovation and its Enemies revolved around fundamentals topics for a truly African-led revolution, both political and economical (biological diversity, technological innovation, property rights…). He charted the path to our true emancipation, keeping in mind the importance of taking a pan-African perspective if we want to overcome our challenges.

I remember a few particularly illuminating texts he wrote and that also helped me better define my views of the continent’s development and its place in the world.

For instance this one about industrialization and what he called “the misplaced promise of Africa’s mobile revolution”, helped to deconstruct a myth often played up in the media about the quasi-magical power of new technologies to industrialize Africa. Far from being idealistic, and though he was such a pioneering scholar, he was a very down to earth and dedicated proponent of pragmatic solutions.

Most of his business plan for Africa rested on the physical infrastructure and agricultural revolution he never ceased to promote. He placed them at the center of the continent’s long-term economic transformation but was particularly keen on innovation to achieve this, as he demonstrates in a fascinating book, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa.

For generations of students lucky enough to benefit from his teaching, he will remain one of the most humble and yet noticeable voices from our continent. His voice will be sorely missed but the ones he inspired will keep him alive and well among us. Let’s hope he inspired many vocations. This would be the best tribute we could pay to his memory.

Resetting the Africa-Europe Relationship

Africa faces a broad range of development challenges, and overcoming them will require huge sums of foreign aid and investment. But as Africa develops, its people will also need partners who recognize that there are mutual benefits to engaging with the continent’s mobile and highly-educated base of human capital.

JOHANNESBURG – In October, the European Union announced a plan to invest €40 billion ($47.6 billion) in Africa, a “Marshall Plan” for the continent that would boost economic growth, create jobs, and, ultimately, slow the migration of young Africans to Europe. “Words won’t convince migrants to stay at home,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said. “We must give them a chance to have a decent life.”Tajani is right. Unfortunately, his approach is not.

For almost 60 years, well-meaning foreign governments, many of them European, have poured huge sums of money into Africa, with little to show for it. Lasting solutions to Africa’s development challenges require funding, to be sure, but they also demand a significant recalibration in relations with foreign partners. And Africa’s relationship with Europe may require the biggest overhaul of all.

The problem goes much deeper than money; one might even say it’s philosophical. Africa and Europe have a very old relationship, marked by complexity and pain. Europe imposed its system of governance, values, and more recently, approaches to trade, long claiming that Africans need to be trained, to modernize, and to emphasize “capacity building.” This patronizing partnership has run its course, and it is crucial that we change the dynamic.

Meetings like the fifth African Union-European Union summit, which wrapped up last week in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, are a good start. The meeting, which focused on “investing in youth,” put a spotlight on the complex links between the sides. One conclusion was clear: the EU’s current answer to addressing migration from Africa is outdated. If Europe’s strategy to solve its migration challenges relies on money alone, it will fail.

We are a long way from the lopsided dynamic that defined African-European relations during the colonial era. Today, Europe may need Africa more than Africa needs Europe, especially if one considers human capital.

Over the next 15 years, some 440 million Africans will enter the job market, compared to 72 million in Europe. Africa’s job seekers will need work, and Europe will have it. An aging population is already putting a squeeze on Europe’s growth, and vacancies are forecast to multiply amid a shrinking labor pool. There is even a strong possibility that, in the long run, it will be African young people who pay for the care of European pensioners. These demographic differences underscore the potential benefits of rethinking economic and political relations.

Without migration, the redistributive policies on which European welfare states depend will be unable to withstand the current rate of aging. Not only will finding the staff to care for an aging population become more difficult; obtaining sufficient revenue to fund social security systems will also become harder as the dependency ratio rises. Migration policies that emphasize mobility are essential to support European industries, household consumption and, ultimately, the financing of social benefits.

Because strategic competitors like China and India have already identified the human-capital potential of Africa’s youth, Europe must move quickly to attract and retain – rather than repel – African professionals. Of the 375,000 students from the continent who study abroad each year, many will establish businesses and find their own place in a globalized economy upon graduation. There is already growing competition in the US, Canada, China, the Middle East, and Africa itself to attract these highly educated and mobile students.

Just as sixteenth-century Europe needed African gold, twenty-first-century Europe cannot do without the African diaspora. Which other world region can offer similar market potential for European industries faced with declining demand and or subdued growth in both their domestic and traditional export markets?

That is why it is more important than ever that Europe not engage in an administrative bean-counting exercise, in which other economies will always appear stronger. Instead, the EU should commit to mutually beneficial employment schemes that maximize the strengths of people and cultures on both continents, notably through skills transfer.

Europe’s recognition of its need for Africa is a necessary paradigm shift, leading, one hopes, to reasoned collaboration. In an increasingly uncertain world, Africa and Europe can set the foundations for a smarter partnership by changing the basis of their cooperation.

Failure to do so will be costly. But most of that cost will be borne by Europe. With alternative partners already courting their talent, it is not Africa that will be hurt the most by the missed opportunity.



Scaling up Climate Smart Agriculture for inclusive development

Johannesburg, November 28, 2017 – Every day that passes, we are learning and getting more convinced on the inevitability of ensuring our agricultural systems are climate smart. Climate-smart agriculture is the reform to ensure the way agriculture is practiced remains compatible with man-made climate changes, securing short-and-long-term resilience in productive capacity of the agricultural systems.

This was the sentiment at the 4th Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture, convened in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 28 November.

In his opening remarks, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency, highlighted the importance of climate smart agriculture towards inclusive development. “The Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture is for the first time being held in Africa. This is an extraordinary moment for Africa and the world at large, [as it is about what] goes to the core of the efforts to attain the inclusive development goals set in both Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the global SDGs,” said Dr Mayaki.

At the centre of the efforts for development in this context, are the following three issues: Firstly, important under the theme of the conference is the challenge presented to science and policies, in terms of how to bring the science-policy nexus to directly bear on accelerating and expanding the evolution, adaptation and up-take of farming practices that are climate smart.

Secondly, is the issue of science and what this means with regard to innovations and advancing the locally adapted climate smart farming and food systems practices.

Thirdly, the context of fostering implementation calls for the conversation to be among all practitioners, policy makers, business interests as well as academia and civil society.

Dr Phil Mjwara, Director General of the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa, reiterated the importance of upscaling climate smart agriculture, adding that food security, adaptation and mitigation are referred to as the “triple win” of climate-smart agriculture.

During the opening session of the conference, Martin Bwalya, NEPAD Agency’s Head of Programme Development pointed out that, “Climate Smart Agriculture can only be a success if it is a success globally, since food systems and climate variability do not have boundaries.”

Also speaking at the conference, Prof Diran Makinde, Senior Advisor in the NEPAD Industrialisation, Science, Technology and Innovation Hub, remarked that NEPAD Agency is leading on research that includes precision agriculture for increased impact and results.

In his closing statement, Dr Mayaki remarked that, “Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture, specifically, and the advancement of climate smart farming systems, is a key part of the African Union and NEPAD’s commitment to sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development.”

Practicing Climate Smart Agriculture will directly impact on:

  •   Sustainablyincreasingagriculturalproductivityandincomesin order to meet national food security and development goals
  •   Buildingresilienceandthecapacityofagriculturalandfood systems to adapt to climate change;
  •   Ensuringthatagriculturecontributestomitigateemissionsof greenhouse gases or increase carbon sequestration.

    Close to 300 participants attended the conference, with representa- tion from all five continents (Africa, North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe). Convening partners of the 4th Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture include the NEPAD Agency, South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, GIZ, CIRAD, IRD, CTA, Wageningen University, CGIAR, CCAFS, AGRA, CCARDESA, Forum for Agricultural Research on Africa, and the African Capacity Building Foundation.

Women and Youth economic empowerment at core of NEPAD Agency discussions in Abidjan

Abidjan, November 27, 2017 – The NEPAD Agency in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Development and Cooperation today hosted a high-level session, on “Technical, Vocational and Education Training (TVET) and Skills for African Youth” session.

The event which took place on the margin of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire brought together representatives of African Union and European Union Member States and various stakeholders involved in women and youth empowerment and skills development- development partners, private sector, civil society, business leaders and other stakeholders including women and youth entrepreneurs and networks.

In his opening remarks, the NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki highlighted that skills development remains a crucial factor in unlocking the potential of African women and youth.

“We need to move away from business as usual because we are already aware of our shortfalls therefore we need to focus on strategies that show impact. In order to do this, it is crucial to adopt a multi-sectoral approach when implementing projects and our job creation initiatives must have a multi-sectoral outlook. The NEPAD Spanish Fund has managed to do this well, by establishing the needs on the ground, creating projects that cater to those needs and capacitating women to empower themselves,” said Dr Mayaki.

Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies but its’ women and youth still remain the greatest untapped assets. African leaders are recognising the urgency of investing in these women and youth in order to accelerate inclusive economic growth and achieve the objectives set out in the

AU’s Agenda 2063 and the Global Vision 2030, which both call for people centred strategies that identify education, skills development and economic empowerment as key drivers of development.

Recent studies show that one fourth of the world’s population will be African by 2050 while almost half of the world’s youth will come from Africa by 2100. By 2035, the continent will have a larger working age population than India or China and a labour force, 3 times larger than Europe’s by 2050. Meanwhile, women represent more than half of Africa’s population and 60% of Africans are under the age of 25. The continent therefore needs to manage its demographic dividend in order to ensure growth and poverty reduction.

Representing the Government of Germany, Mr Guenter Nooke, German Chancellor’s Special Representative for Africa, elaborated on the German support towards youth empowerment.

“Germany has decided to support the African Union and the NEPAD Agency in its endeavours for training and employment of young people. Today we pledged 28 Million Euros for the Skills Initiative for Africa project and 3 Euros for the implementation of the African Policy Framework of Migration which has a link to labour migration,” he said.

The event showcased targeted interventions that contribute to women and youth economic empowerment resulting in employment opportunities and sustained livelihoods.

Lessons were also drawn from the NEPAD Spanish Fund for African Women’s Empowerment flagship project which to date has empowered over 1.2 million women.

“ Our current Master Plan continues to prioritise gender equality as one of the fundamental goals for development, the NEPAD Spain Fund for the empowerment of African women with the aim of improving African women’s life and specially to speed up the improvement of their economic situation,” said Christina Diaz Fernandez-Gil, Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Spain.


The NEPAD Spanish Fund (NSF) for African Women’s focuses on Women’s economic empowerment. To date, the Fund has implemented 77 projects in 35 countries in Sub Sahara Africa. More than one million women have benefited directly from the Fund in areas such as business and vocational skills training, enabling environment for women entrepreneur, access to finance and job creation. In many cases, these interventions brought structural changes in the promotion of women and youth entrepreneurship business in Sub Sahara Africa.


The NEPAD Agency has developed a Skills and Employment for Youth Programme (SEFY). As a central pillar, the SEFY uses existing African Union sector policy development frameworks (e.g. Infrastructure-PIDA; Agriculture- CAADP) to stimulate public and private sector investments to generate economic opportunities and critical quantity and quality of jobs along national priority productive sectors. Programmatic actions aim to provide support to strengthen evidence based national development policy and strategy development; enhancing youth skills development including harmonisation of Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) frameworks; as well as strengthening policy and institutional support for supportive entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Climate smart agriculture in the context of COP 23

While COP 23 is currently being held in Bonn, I thought it was interesting to present an update on one of our programs to support the fight against global warming, and aims to increase resilience to this phenomenon, which unfortunately our countries are facing as the first victims although they are in no way responsible for this situation.

Launched in 2014, this program, named Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is derived from the policies defined and put in place by the African Union, including the ComprehensiveProgram for Agricultural Development in Africa (CAADP). Our organization, NEPAD, is in charge of coordinating and implementing this platform, which should directly benefit the States involved.

Climate Smart Agriculture* is an agriculture that increases productivity, resilience and adaptation over the long term, while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This program is therefore aimed at global food security and improving nutrition in the face of climate change. The CSA program plans to strengthen the capacities of agricultural stakeholders at all levels, especially small farmers and concerned institutions. It has an ambitious goal: to reach the target of 25 million African farmers practicing climate smart agriculture by 2025.

To this end, Africa and NEPAD are leading a country-driven and regionally-integrated initiative that provides the tools and platform for hosting partnerships that deliver tangible results. The structure has borne fruit: today we have developed several successful alliances with international NGOs like CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Concern Worldwide, Oxfam and World Vision, but also with four technical partners including FAO, and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), for example.

Every year for the past three years, NEPAD has been bringing together experts, representatives of our Alliance’s countries and regions, and our partners to discuss and adress the important role of agriculture in combating climate change. Today, through this program, NEPAD is seen as a source of information, innovation and knowledge production on climate change in Africa. Our platform also helps to find international funding and partnerships for states that wish to develop effective resilience policies to climate change, based in particular on agriculture. We are therefore enrolling in a concrete action that is bearing fruit.

It remains to create the tools to measure the results of this new approach in the field. The transition of agriculture sectors (including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) to more sustainable and climate-smart production systems is indeed starting and without doubt on the ground. We therefore first need to assess the current and future impacts of climate change in each African state, identify current and future adaptation strategies, and create a favorable environment for farmers. We must continue our efforts and launch new projects as we have done already with success in states like Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

We are facing a long struggle, but the time has not come to give up. It’s about our future and the future of our planet.

* From the English term smart agriculture, this is an agro-ecological agriculture that not only adapts to climate change but also emits low greenhouse gas.

Banking on African Infrastructure

Africa faces a yawning gap between its infrastructure needs and its ability to attract the foreign investment required to finance projects. The continent’s leaders must recommit to creating a more favorable investment climate, one that can attract capital while limiting investors’ risk exposure.

JOHANNESBURG – As the US Federal Reserve embarks on the “great unwinding” of the stimulus program it began nearly a decade ago, emerging economies are growing anxious that a stronger dollar will adversely affect their ability to service dollar-denominated debt. This is a particular concern for Africa, where, since the Seychelles issued its debut Eurobond in 2006, the total value of outstanding Eurobonds has grown to nearly $35 billion.

But if the Fed’s ongoing withdrawal of stimulus has frayed African nerves, it has also spurred recognition that there are smarter ways to finance development than borrowing in dollars. Of the available options, one specific asset class stands out: infrastructure.

Africa, which by 2050 will be home to an estimated 2.6 billion people, is in dire need of funds to build and maintain roads, ports, power grids, and so on. According to the World Bank, Africa must spend a staggering $93 billion annually to upgrade its current infrastructure; the vast majority of these funds – some 87% – are needed for improvements to basic services like energy, water, sanitation, and transportation.

Yet, if the recent past is any guide, the capital needed will be difficult to secure. Between 2004 and 2013, African states closed just 158 financing deals for infrastructure or industrial projects, valued at $59 billion – just 5% of the total needed. Given this track record, how will Africa fund even a fraction of the World Bank’s projected requirements?

The obvious source is institutional and foreign investment. But, to date, many factors, including poor profit projections and political uncertainty, have limited such financing for infrastructure projects on the continent. Investment in African infrastructure is perceived as simply being too risky.

Fortunately, with work, this perception can be overcome, as some investors – such as the African Development Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and the Trade & Development Bank – have already demonstrated. Companies from the private sector are also profitably financing projects on the continent. For example, Black Rhino, a fund set up by Blackstone, one of the world’s largest multinational private equity firms, focuses on the development and acquisition of energy projects, such as fuel storage, pipelines, and transmission networks.

But these are the exceptions, not the rule. Fully funding Africa’s infrastructure shortfall will require attracting many more investors – and swiftly.

To succeed, Africa must develop a more coherent and coordinated approach to courting capital, while at the same time working to mitigate investors’ risk exposure. Public-private sector collaborations are one possibility. For example, in the energy sector, independent power producers are working with governments to provide electricity to 620 million Africans living off the grid. Privately funded but government regulated, these producers operate through power purchase agreements, whereby public utilities and regulators agree to purchase electricity at a predetermined price. There are approximately 130 such producers in Sub-Saharan Africa, valued at more than $8 billion. In South Africa alone, 47 projects are underway, accounting for 7,000 megawatts of additional power production.

Similar private-public partnerships are emerging in other sectors, too, such as transportation. Among the most promising are toll roads built with private money, a model that began in South Africa. Not only are these projects, which are slowly appearing elsewhere on the continent, more profitable than most financial market investments; they are also literally paving the way for future growth.

Clearly, Africa needs more of these ventures to overcome its infrastructure challenges. That is why I, along with other African business leaders and policymakers, have called on Africa’s institutional investors to commit 5% of their funds to local infrastructure. We believe that with the right incentives, infrastructure can be an innovative and attractive asset class for those with long-term liabilities. One sector that could lead the way on this commitment is the continent’s pension funds, which, together, possess a balance sheet of about $3 trillion.

The 5% Agenda campaign, launched in New York last month, underscores the belief that only a collaborative public-private approach can redress Africa’s infrastructure shortfall. For years, a lack of bankable projects deterred international financing. But in 2012, the African Union adopted the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which kick-started more than 400 energy, transportation, water, and communications projects. It was a solid start – one that the 5% Agenda seeks to build upon.

But some key reforms will be needed. A high priority of the 5% Agenda is to assist in updating the national and regional regulatory frameworks that guide institutional investment in Africa. Similarly, new financial products must be developed to give asset owners the ability to allocate capital directly to infrastructure projects.

Unlocking new pools of capital will help create jobs, encourage regional integration, and ensure that Africa has the facilities to accommodate the needs of future generations. But all of this depends on persuading investors to put their money into African projects. As business leaders and policymakers, we must ensure that the conditions for profitability and social impact are not mutually exclusive. When development goals and profits align, everyone wins.

Financing Africa’s infrastructure and agricultural development: Inclusive growth for economic transformation

New York, 17 October 2017 –  The case for financing infrastructure and agricultural development was made at the United Nations headquarters during Africa Week.

Chair of the  Africa Group, Mr Mohamed Siad Doualeh, Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations, made the call to look at ways to mobilse resources, investment, capacities, skills and technology in order to facilitate agricultural and infrastructure development in Africa.

As envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Agenda 2063, partnerships will be the essential means of implementation for these development frameworks. In this context, African leaders have prioritised domestic resource mobilisation, through enhancing economic growth, improving the tax system and expanding the tax base, and curbing illicit financial flows while promoting public-private partnerships, and leveraging remittances, financial markets and pension and sovereign wealth funds.

Financing infrastructure and agriculture projects requires an enabling environment that includes adequate skills in project preparation and management, the availability of adequate financial products and institutions, a business friendly environment, adequate hard and soft infrastructure including the legal framework, comprehensive risk management, and political leadership.

H.E Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania , reiterated the need for resources to be increased for agriculture and infrastructure. “Since the Maputo declaration was made in 2003 through Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme [CAADP], many governments have increased their budgetary allocations to agriculture. However, mechanisation is still lacking and a number of challenges still remain. Therefore, more investment in agriculture and infrastructure is needed to achieve inclusive growth,” he said.

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency, concurred with H.E Kiwete in stating that agriculuture in Africa was revitalised through CAADP.  “As the development agency of the African Union, NEPAD  implements  continental  strategies and builds coherent plans through frameworks such as CAADP for agriculture and PIDA for infrastrcuture,” Dr Mayaki said. “ These and other continental frameworks are embeded in Agenda 2063 through which regional and national coherence is built,” he added.

Dr Mayaki went on to state that energy is a good example of the link bewteen agriculture and infrastructure. “More bankable projects are needed to attract the much needed investment in infrastrutre, ensuring that returns are high and risks are low.  NEPAD Agency’s desrisking report shows that Africa is not as risky as was perceived,” Dr Mayaki said.

“With the underutilisation of resources, coupled with population growth, Africa has not yet achieved self-sufficency in food security,” Prof Victor Harison, Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission stated.

The Commissioner also remarked that rural infrastructure is essential to accelarate agricultural development, emphasising that infrasturure and agricultural developement are prerequisites for meeting goals in Agenda 2063 and SDGs.

World Bank Senior Vice President, Mr Mahmoud Moheildin’s presentation showed that following a sharp slow down, recovery is underway in Africa, South of the Sahara. GDP in the region is expected to strengthen to 2.4 percent on 2017/18  from 1.3 percent in 2016. However, growth in cereal yields in Africa has been consistently lower than in other years, with infrastructure deficit  holding back growth

Prof Al-Amin Abu-Manga, Member of the African Peer Review Panel of Emminent Persons concluded  that, “Africa has reoruces, what needs to be strengthened is governance thereof.”