Women are the pillars of Africa

UN Women and BNP Paribas signed a partnership to develop climate-resilient agriculture and women’s entrepreneurship in Northern Senegal. Access to land, market & value chain addition remain critical for rural women in Senegal. This partnership will help Nbeye Gaye, Ndeye Seye & 30000 other women address those challenges.

FOOD SECURITY

Why Agriculture?

 Investing in the sustainable development of Agriculture in Africa will alleviate poverty and put Africa back on track towards achieving the millennium development goals.

Background

One in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately thirty percent or more of people in Africa face hunger - the highest percentage of any region worldwide -  almost half the continent is unable to obtain food on a regular basis. 

POVERTY AND PROFIT -THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE

Hunger is one of the most common reasons why people flee their homelands. Politicians repeatedly say that the causes behind so many people leaving Africa for Europe have to be addressed. Can the development aid work performed by private companies bring about the desired change? The United Nations has set itself ambitious goals: eradicating poverty and hunger around the world by 2030. To achieve this, state development agencies are increasingly joining forces with the private sector. 

CAN AFRICA FEED ITSELF?

Eliminating hunger in Africa

The African Union has set a target to “eliminate hunger and food  insecurity by 2025.” Both Agenda 2063 and the African Union Summit  decision on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation have  reaffirmed this commitment (African Union, 2014, 2015). Unfortunately,  Africa is not currently on track to meet these targets. Immediate,  mutually reinforcing interventions are required to bring the continent  closer to eliminating hunger and food insecurity. The purposes of this report are (1) to describe the path that Africa has  been on with respect to reducing hunger and pursuing food security, (2)  to show where that path would likely lead in the coming years without  significant change in policy, and (3) to outline the conditions and  actions necessary to put Africa on track to eliminating hunger and food  insecurity as soon as possible. 

WHAT IS HUNGER IN AFRICA?

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The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)  defines hunger, or undernourishment, as an inability to acquire enough  food to satisfy dietary energy requirements. Food security is a  situation where all people at all times have access to food and is  composed of four dimensions: food availability, economic and physical  access to food, food utilization, and stability over time. This report  will mainly focus on the prevalence of undernourishment and net  dependence on imports as the two indicators of hunger and food security,  respectively. Nearly one in five people living in Africa is hungry. That rate has  decreased steadily since the mid- 1990s, with the fastest decline in  West Africa and the lowest undernourishment rate in Northern Africa.  Unfortunately, the total number of undernourished Africans has climbed  since 1991, largely driven by increasing population. East Africa has the  highest levels of hunger in terms of both prevalence and absolute  numbers—about half of the total undernourished population of the continent can be found in the Easter Region. 

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On the supply side, Africa was not producing enough food to feed its  own population adequately in the early 1990s, but its exports and  imports of agricultural goods were both relatively small and in balance.  Imports have since grown to be over four times the level of exports (in  tons), and net imports are now about 14 percent of total agricultural  demand. To analyze whether or not Africa is on track to eliminate hunger and  food insecurity by 2025, this research uses the International Futures  (IFs) forecasting system. IFs, and this research, draws heavily on data  from the FAO and other international sources. The Base Case scenario of  IFs considers historical patterns to explore the dynamic future path of  Africa. Looking at the path going forward, without substantial change in the  dynamics of demand and supply, the portion of Africans who are  undernourished will fall from about 17 percent in 2015 to about 12  percent in 2025. Over the same period, the import dependence of Africa  will rise from 14 percent of total demand to 25 percent. Learn more about ending hunger in 2025

FAO STRATEGY TO END HUNGER

Achieving FAO's goals to end hunger and poverty is a challenging and complex task. Today, thanks to major changes in how we do business, FAO is a fitter, flatter and more flexible organization, whose activities are driven by five strategic objectives. The new and improved FAO has a real chance to win the battle against hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty.

FORESIGHT

Top Priorities for Africa

African leaders describe initiatives to help the continent harness its potential to secure its future. African institutions—particularly the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank, and regional economic communities—are already unveiling strategies to tackle the continent’s challenges more effectively. Indeed, 2018 is the year in which Africa can unleash its inner strengths. 

AFRICA GROWTH INITIATIVE

On January 17, AGI hosted a Foresight Africa event featuring a panel of leading Africa experts where panelists offered insights on important regional trends along with recommendations for national governments, regional organizations, multilateral institutions, and civil society actors as they forge ahead in 2018.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND FOOD

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Food and agriculture: Driving action across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Our planet faces multiple and complex challenges in the 21st century. The  2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development commits the international  community to act together to overcome them and transform our world for  present and future generations. Focusing on food and agriculture,  investing in rural people and transforming the rural sector - actions  associated with the holistic vision of SDG2 - can speed progress towards  all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

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Path to zero hunger by 2030

This infographic identifies a number of trends, challenges and priority actions along a path towards Zero Hunger by 2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs), are new global objectives that succeeded the  Millennium Development Goals on 1 January 2016. The SDGs will shape  national development plans over the next 15 years. From ending poverty  and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural  resources, food and agriculture lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. 

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Indicators: Measuring up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda has set in place a global reporting structure that includes inputs at local, national and regional levels, and culminates in the UN High-Level Political Forum, an annual intergovernmental meeting that provides guidance and recommendations, identifies progress.


OPENING DOORS TO THE WORLD

Check out this great videoCities in Africa are growing rapidly and have a critical role to play in their countries’ economic growth. Improving conditions for people and businesses in African cities by aggressively investing in infrastructure and reforming land markets is the key to accelerating economic growth, adding jobs, and improving city competitiveness. 

GLOBAL URBANIZATION AND AFRICA

Africa, is the epicenter of global urbanization. It is undergoing a rapid urban transition and is set to be the fastest urbanizing region in the coming decades. In 1990 only a third of Africa’s population was urban (31 per cent)—by 2035, the figure is projected to reach 49 per cent.

The challenge confronting Africa is to accelerate structural transformation by  harnessing the rapid urban transition to promote economic diversification, with  a  special  focus on industrialization that  will create jobs, enhance access to  basic services and reduce inequality and poverty. The links between urbanization and industrialization have generally been weak or absent in Africa, underlining the urgent need to connect urban and industrial development given their interdependence and growth impacts. 

ENGAGING WITH CHINA

The John L. Thornton China Center and the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at Brookings launched Senior Fellow David Dollar’s new report, “China’s Engagement in Africa: From Natural Resources to Human Resources.” 

CROUCHING LION, RETREATING DRAGON

What can we learn in 2018 from a $ 60 billion commitment?

China has become, by far, the largest source of bilateral loans, accounting for about 14 percent of stock of total debt contracted by sub- Saharan African countries, excluding South Africa. Africa has forged close economic ties with China over the past 20 years. There are two main channels of economic engagement between Africa and China. The main channel, by far, has been through trade, having risen more than 40-fold over the period. Most sub-Saharan African exports to China are fuels, metals, or mineral products. On the other hand, imports from China to sub-Saharan African countries comprise mostly manufactured goods, followed by machinery. The second main channel of engagement between Africa and China is through Chinese lending. China has become, by far, the largest source of bilateral loans, accounting for about 14 percent of stock of total debt contracted by sub- Saharan African countries, excluding South Africa. Contrary to popular perception, Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa remains small—accounting for only a little over 5 percent of the total FDI flow in 2015. 

OUR FOOD POLICY NEEDS SHARP TEETH

Good intentions are not enough

Amid raving economic forecasts that Africa will be the next big emerging market, chronic food shortages remain stubbornly immune to solutions. The African Union is aware of this weak link and is working to convince its members to boost investments in agriculture. To empha- size the central role of agriculture in Africa’s economic growth, the regional body has declared 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security. 

FINANCIAL INCLUSION AND ZERO HUNGER

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands talks about the importance of financial  inclusion to achieve zero hunger. She also highlights the role of  partnerships with the UN World Food Programme and others to reach this  goal. Queen Maxima is the UN Secretary-General's Special Advocate for  Inclusive Finance for Development.

THE ROLE OF MOBILE FINANCIAL SERVICES

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Agriculture- the new frontier for DFS

Digitizing payments within the agricultural sector presents enormous potential to promote broader financial inclusion in rural areas. The estimated $2.2 billion in annual payments from businesses and governments to rural individuals engaged in agricultural value chains are an attractive entry point for many digital financial services (DFS) beyond payments. Yet cash still dominates all rural money transactions. CGAP’s nationally representative surveys in six countries show that while 67 percent of smallholders own a mobile phone, just 17 percent have a mobile money account – and only 4 percent have received digital payments for their crops.

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Accelerating agricultural productivity through financial services for farmers

 Despite the impact of the financial service industry in enabling digital access, mobile financial services and digital financial services for millions of people, sixty six percent or more of people in Africa lack access to formal financial services. e-Money is helping bridge this gap and can provide a platform for small holder farmers to access mobile payments for micro loans, credit, insurance, better savings and payments mechanisms, reduced transaction times and costs, lower vulnerability to theft and loss. However, e-money lacks certain characteristics intrinsic to paper currency including interoperability between various e-money schemes and requiring intermediaries such as commercial banks to participate in the settlement process. 

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Investing in the next generation of central bank tools to improve monitoring

Governments across Africa can leverage the latest regulatory technology providing central banks with the capability to transform paper currency into a Digital Fiat Currency - issued by governments, distributed across all payment systems and accessible from any mobile device. Creating a Digital Fiat Currency will unleash the full potential of paper currency in the digital realm by providing interoperability, instant settlement, trust, and higher security standards. This technology will also make it more effective for regulators, financial authorities and governments to enforce e-money regulations, seamlessly gather data in real time on all transactions flows and improve their capacity to monitor, secure & regulate the financial ecosystem.

CHINA'S CASHLESS SOCIETY

The days of overstuffed wallets in your pocket or purse might soon come to an end. By 2020, mobile wallets on our smartphones are expected to surpass the use of credit and debit cards in the United States. But that has already happened in China. Can Africa go cashless?

Digitizing Value Chain Finance for Farmers

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Emerging approaches in finance

Digital innovations offer an unprecedented opportunity to address many of the pain points faced by value chain actors and FSPs by reducing information asymmetries and transaction costs. For example, aggregation and analysis of digital data related to sales, payments, and seasonality of cash flows among value chain actors promise to overcome barriers to providing credit not only to smallholders, but also to traders, processors, and retailers. Additionally, branchless banking and the rise of mobile devices are making payments to and from smallholders more efficient, while reducing barriers to collecting deposits and offering affordable insurance products.

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The Story so far for small holder households

Smallholder households, estimated at about 500 million globally in low-  and middle-income countries, are the largest segment by livelihood of  those living under $2 a day. Traditionally excluded from formal  financial services, digital financial services represent an opportunity  to deepen financial inclusion amongst this segment. One avenue to  facilitating this is to digitize the agriculture value chains that some  smallholders are a part of. Although just 7% of smallholders are in tight agriculture value chains,  digitizing these holds significant benefits for the buyers that  smallholders are dependent on, creating a strong incentive that doesn’t  exist for non-commercial smallholders or those in loose value chains.

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Developing agricultural credit scores

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and Harvesting Inc.,  a California-based financial technology firm, are partnering to develop  a new credit scoring mechanism for smallholder farmers in Uganda to  improve their access to loans. Smallholder families are the single  largest group by livelihood in extreme poverty, living on less than $2 a  day. Without access to credit to buy inputs such as seeds and  fertilizer, they have limited ability to improve their output and raise  their incomes. An estimated 475 million farmers worldwide live on  smallholdings of less than 2 hectares, and they are central to efforts  in financial inclusion.

GHANA AND DIGITAL FINANICE

Agriculture is the mainstay of Ghana's economy, but many farmers lack  access to financial services making it difficult for them to grow their  businesses. Learn how the Feed the Future Ghana ADVANCE project uses  digital financial services to increase farmers' resilience and help them  grow their businesses. 

AMERICA'S CORPORATE FOOD INDUSTRY

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on America's food industry,  exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the  American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory  agencies, USDA and FDA. The USA's food supply is now controlled by a  handful of corporations that put profit ahead of consumer health,  the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own  environment. Will African Agriculture be any different?