The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 May 2014
The theme of this year’s report is ‘Grain, Fish, Money – Financing Africa’s Green and Blue revolutions’.
This 2014 report will argue that Africa can and must unleash green and blue revolutions in its agriculture and fisheries industries.
It will highlight the opportunities for Africa in helping to meet the world’s growing demand for food, and the critical importance of agriculture and fisheries for two thirds of people in Africa that are engaged in these sectors.
The report will also make policy recommendations, including the scaling-up of Africa’s infrastructure and expansion of its financial services. It will outline the urgent need to stop the plundering of Africa’s timber and fisheries resource.
Last year’s report ‘Equity in Extractives – Stewarding Africa’s Natural Resources for all’, made headlines with its analysis of the oil, gas, and minerals industries in Africa.
The Africa Progress Panel (APP) consists of ten distinguished individuals from the private and public sector, advocating for equitable and sustainable development for Africa.
Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel laureate – Kofi Annan, is not only the chairman of the APP, but is closely involved in the day-to-day work of the organisation.
Other members of the panel include; Olusegun Obasanjo – former President of Nigeria; Peter Eigen – Founder of Transparency International, and Founding Chair and Special Representative of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI); and Bob Geldof – Musician, Businessman, Founder and Chair of Band Aid, Live Aid and live8, Co-Founder of DATA and ONE Advisor and Advocate.
The APP’s Secretariat is managed by Caroline Kende-Robb – Executive Director; and recently appointed Deputy Executive Director – Max Bankole Jarrett.
The panel functions in a unique policy space, targeting decision-makers, including African and other world leaders, heads of state, leaders of industry, and a broad range of stakeholders at the global, regional, and national levels.
The panel facilitates coalition building, in order to leverage and broker knowledge, and convene decision-makers to influence policy and create change for Africa.
By bringing together experts with a focus on Africa, the APP contributes to generating evidence-based policies.
The 2013 Africa Progress Report helped frame top-level discussions around the extractives industry in Africa.
Africa’s oil, gas, and mining sectors offer tremendous opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people. But despite economic high growth, the continent’s natural resources are far from benefitting the majority of Africans.
According to this year’s report, which will be launched in Abuja next week, Africa has the potential to feed not just itself, but other regions too. The report argues that the continent will one day play a critical role in helping to meet global food demand, which is expected to double by 2050.
With concerns about the continent’s growing inequalities, Africa’s green and blue revolution can extend economic growth to the two-thirds of Africa’s population that depends on these sectors for their livelihood.
Unleashing Africa’s green and blue revolution requires its farmers and fishing communities to have better access to both financial services and infrastructure, such as roads and storage.
Finance for infrastructural development is expensive, but at least some of the costs can be covered, if the unfair and illegal exploitation of Africa’s timber and fisheries are brought to an end.
Echoing the findings of last year’s Africa Progress Report, Africa loses tens of billions of dollars every year to unethical and unsustainable business practices, including the plunder of its precious natural resources by a few corrupt investors and officials.
This loss of revenue also has a negative impact on the livelihoods, food and nutrition security of millions throughout the continent.
Impressive innovation and smart government policies are changing age-old farming ways. A handful of countries have already begun their agricultural revolution. Now these successes must be extended to the rest of the continent.
Sub-Saharan Africa has taken huge strides over the past decade. Economies across the region are beginning to show encouraging signs of growth. Social indicators are improving and, for the first time in a generation, poverty rates are falling slowly.
But the Africa Progress Panel has frequently cautioned against exaggerated optimism. There is too much hype surrounding commentaries on Africa, and there are two sides to the story of the past decade.
On one side of the balance sheet are the undoubted successes. Africa’s growth has been helped by booming commodity prices, but it has been sustained by improvements in macro-economic policy.
Long recognised by policy makers as a rhetorical priority, agriculture is now attracting the kind of serious attention needed to fulfil its transformative potential. The other side of the story is less encouraging.
On a simple growth trajectory, Africa may be tracking the pathway of some of the economic success stories in East Asia. But that is where the analogy ends.
Africa lacks the human capital to embark upon a truly transformative economic growth path.
This year’s Africa Progress Panel Report takes a hard look at the risks and opportunities facing Africa.
It asks what governments across the region need to do if they are to convert a decade of growth into transformative development. Agriculture is at the heart of the answer to the question that is posed.
Yet, Africa still lacks viable ways of channelling much-needed capital to the millions of dynamic entrepreneurs with viable business ideas, in sectors such as farming, coastal fishing, aquaculture and agro-processing.
This year’s APP report reflects on how Africa can address the largely unmet demand for investment in agriculture and fisheries.
The report argues that Africa needs to urgently push through sustainable “Green” and “Blue” revolutions, fuelled by home-grown innovations and informed by lessons from other regions.
The 2014 Report will be launched at the ‘World Economic Forum on Africa’, which will be held in Abuja, Nigeria on Thursday, 8th May 2014.