Investors have been urged to take advantage of Africa’s arable land to drive sustainable agriculture and increase food production.
This was amongst the conclusions of business leaders and policymakers at the 4th edition of the EU-Africa business summit in Marrakech held to promote business and policy initiatives between both continents.
Experts say key private sector investment and policy implementation are needed to drive further growth.
**_"This is the time for partners from all over the world to come and invest in the continent. They have the freedom to establish under the The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in any of their preference, and wherever they are established we are saying that their market is a whole continent,"_ **Chiza Charles Chiumya, the acting Director of the Directorate of Industry, Mining and Entrepreneurship, at the African Union Commission said.
"We have for instance CADEP, the CADEP framework, which is promoting agriculture in Africa. We have the Malabo declaration that was aiming at accelerating progress towards Agricultural transformation. So these programs need to be implemented fully by our member states. And we call on our member states to make sure that they are able to implement the policies that are in place" the words of Dr. Patrick Ndzana Olomo, the head, Investment and Mobilisation of Resources, AU Department of Economic Affairs.
23 percent of Subsaharan Africa's GDP stems from Agriculture according to the World Bank. At the EU-Africa business summit, it was also agreed that EU- Africa trade partnership in the sector must now focus on small holder farmers. This was the position of former EU commisioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan.
"We stand ready in the europoean union to work with our partners in the African union and all of the countries to generate the necessary finance the technical knowledge and all of the partnerships and the alliances to make this happen. But the farmer must be at the center of the action' Hogan said.
"All of the various policy positions that have been announced here at the European Africa business summit are all academic if we dont have people on the ground that are prepared to implement it and they have to be incentivized and they have to get proper pay for the work that they do for carbon farming and for energy renewables and for creating the jobs. And this is where we must refocus our efforts and in the context of food, nutrition and food security, the farmer must be at the center of the activity" stressed the former EU commissioner for Agriculture.
The EU is one of Africa’s largest trade and investment partner. It's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock in Africa in 2020 was at €222 billion, compared to €42 billion from the US and €38 from China.
Organizers of the summit, the EBS group say their aim is to shape the common future of both continents by bringing influential business leaders, policymakers and experts together.
They added that the EU-African partnership needs to deliver a genuine partnership with policy objectives, standards and rules that are in the interest of both continents particularly after the interruption due to the Covid pandemic.