UK Parliamentary Inquiry Highlights Role of Grow Africa in Mobilising Investment, Generating Impact

A new report released by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Trade out of Poverty (APPG-TOP) has highlighted the Grow Africa partnership as an example of a successful initiative that has supported the growth of investment and trade in Africa’s agriculture sector by facilitating new investments. The report cites the US$684mn in new private sector investments made by Grow Africa companies in 2014, and recommends that the UK government continues to work to mobilise further private sector investment into agribusiness through initiatives such as Grow Africa.

The Inquiry into the UK’s Africa Free Trade Initiative (AFTi) was conducted to assess the impact of the AFTI five years after its inception in 2011 and to determine whether there was a case for a successor initiative. The AFTi was originally conceived with the vision of helping African countries to integrate into the global trading system and in so doing, enabling economic growth and reducing poverty through increased trade and investment.

The report notes that while agriculture employed 61% of the continent’s workforce in 2014, its contribution to GDP continued to hover around 25% of continental GDP, primarily due to the low levels of productivity and limited processing capabilities for agricultural goods. With 80% of the region’s consumption of processed foods still dependent on imports, the report highlights the ongoing critical need for investment in more productive farming and food processing capabilities, noting the positive implications of such investment for food security and job creation.

Grow Africa has a key role in meeting this need, by working with private sector companies to support their investments in key agricultural value chains across the 12 Grow Africa countries, while facilitating partnerships with government, farmer groups, and other value chain stakeholders to develop collaborative approaches to strengthening value chains and attracting further investment. To date, Grow Africa has mobilised US $10 billion in investment commitments, generating $2.3 billion of investment on the ground from 2013 to 2015, reaching 10 million smallholder farmers with services and contracts in 2015, and creating over 30,000 jobs in 2015, with a total of 88,800 jobs created over the three years. Grow Africa welcomes the findings of the APPG-TOP inquiry in endorsing the important role of both Grow Africa and investment in Africa’s agriculture sector to improved food security, livelihoods, and broader economic growth.

The inquiry was led by a committee of experts in trade and investment in Africa, comprising comprising Lord Paul Boateng, former British High Commissioner to South Africa, Ali Mufuruki, Chair of TradeMark East Africa and Founder and Chairman of Infotech Investment Group, Lord Stephen Green, former UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment and former Group Chairman of HSBC, Amb. Darlington Mwape, Senior Fellow at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and Representative of Zambia to the WTO, and Prof. Myles Wickstead, former Head of Secretariat, Commission for Africa and former UK Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union. The committee gathered evidence and held hearings and consultations in the UK and Africa over a six-month period, consulting with stakeholders across the public and private sectors, as well as the development community. The report can be accessed on the APPG-TOP website.

 

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