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International Policy Digest

Deeper Regional Integration: An Opportunity for Job Creation in Africa

Deeper Regional Integration: An Opportunity for Job Creation in Africa

African countries have the most visa requirements in the world. Only 11 of 54 countries, a mere 20 percent, offer 100 percent liberal access to all African citizens: Seychelles, Uganda, Cape Verde, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Rwanda, Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar and Somalia. Another 7 countries, constituting about 13 percent, i.e. Mozambique, Mauritius, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Gambia and Burkina Faso, offer liberal access to citizens from at least 50 percent of the countries.

This is in contrast to the EU, where member states’ citizens enjoy 100 percent freedom of movement in each other’s territories.

This low level of integration relates not only to the movement of people but to trade. Africa as a continent has the lowest level of intra-trade, a mere 12 percent, compared to 65 percent in Europe, 45 percent in North America and 25 percent in South East Asia.

 

It is also manifested in the air lines where with 12 percent of the global population, Africa accounts for less than 1 percent of the global air service market. A key reason for this under-served status is that Africa has not consolidated its air market. Considering that, in 2013 Africa’s air transport had grown at a rate of 6.6 percent over a decade to become the most rapid growth region globally, and with the potential to grow at 5.7 percent annually over and above the global average of 4.9 percent. With improved intra-Africa flights, Africa’s share of the global air services market can be significantly enhanced.

However, many African countries restrict their air services markets to protect the share held by local airlines, specifically state-owned air carriers. The Yamoussoukro Decision signed off by 44 African Nations and which became binding in 2002 after being endorsed by OAU heads of state and government in 2000, was meant to address this. It commits its signatories to put in place policies to deregulate air services and promote liberalized intra-Africa airspace, a regional air market open to transnational competition. But to date, over 10 years later, while 10 countries have not signed on or completed proper ratification of this decision, the many who are signatories have not implemented it.

Benefits of integration

With the restricted integration, Africa is losing on the economic front.

By enhancing integration in both the movement of people and trade, Africa could potentially add $20 billion annually in agricultural trade. In airlines, an open skies model between just 12 African countries could catalyze creation of more than 150,000 jobs and add up to $1.3 billion to Africa’s GDP. 100 percent open skies across the continent will double and triple these figures.

 

On the labor market front, integrating Africa’s work-force could potentially reduce brain-drain, the emigration of talent out of Africa. Africa is reported to have lost about 33 percent or a third, of its human capital and continues to lose its skilled personnel at an increasing rate. The brain drain many African countries experience could become rather the transfer of talents across borders. An unemployed nurse from Ghana could earn a decent living in Liberia while contributing to better health services in the host country. A young graduate from Tunisia’s technical schools could find a decent job in the plumbing industry in South Africa and help meet the labor needs in that country. The free movement of labor will also create opportunities for Africa’s youth by encouraging trading, new business and job creation.

How can Africa integrate?

Policy reform and policy implementation are central to regional integration in Africa. It is worth noting that in Africa, mostly it is not the absence of good policies but rather a lack of adequate implementation frameworks that has hamstrung development. As demonstrated earlier, the Yamoussoukro Decision for instance, as promising as it is, is yet to be implemented over 10 years after it was ratified by 44 out of 54 countries, or 80 percent of countries.

Action to address this is already under way. UNEP is leading the way with the Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA), www.ebafosa.org a pan-African policy framework and implementation platform whose creation was facilitated by UNEP in partnership with the AUC, the ACTS, AfDB and other partners to lead in bridging the policy-action-implementation gap. EBAFOSA is providing a policy and implementation platform, a solutions space fostering partnerships to blend the strengths of governments, the private sector, non-profits, academia, research and individuals among others to build mutually benefiting partnerships toward achieving implementation.

 

The imperative of partnerships as a means of implementation is well implied in the SDG goal 17 and EBAFOSA is well aligned. The mandate of EBAFOSA is to ensure EBA-driven agriculture and its value chains are up-scaled into policy and an implementation framework toward becoming the continental norm through a country driven process. By this, 5 distinct benefits are envisaged; ensure food and nutritional security, enhance climate resilience, enhance ecosystem productivity, and foster forward and backward linkages to value chains and value addition processes to create additional income and as many as 17 million jobs in the continent.

EBAFOSA provides a platform using already existing structures to bridge continental borders and deliver meaningful development to the ordinary citizens by leveraging internal continental capacity and partnerships with country, continental and global stakeholders.

However, beyond this more still needs to be done to ensure integration can be achieved on the continent. This will also serve to strengthen the achievement of the EBAFOSA mandate through increased continental connectivity and integration to enhance transfer of lessons, income opportunities etc.

The following policy recommendations are suggested to enhance regional integration.

 

Revamp transport infrastructure: Focus on rural roads where up to 70 percent of the population resides and over 70 percent of food producers reside yet less than 30 percent have access to roads. Channeling investment in rural roads will have a higher benefit-cost ratio to ensure regional integration in agro-markets results in unlocking of the $20 billion annual potential in agriculture trade.

Reform trade and production policies: Africa produces what it doesn’t consume and consumes what it doesn’t produce. Such policies should be reformed. Africa should also prioritize policies strengthening regional trading blocs such as ECOWAS in West Africa, SADC in Southern Africa and COMESA in East and Central Africa, rather than the current investment and focus on improving access to developed country markets at the expense of consolidating the regional market.

Reduce the non-tariff barriers: Trade barriers contribute to making Africa a region with the longest wait times in the world – 38 days for importation and 32 days for exporting goods.

Reduce the cost of cross border trade: Improve transport infrastructure and embrace ICT technology to reduce clearance times which currently account for 30 – 50 percent of total export value in Africa and are 63 percent higher than in other regions. This stifles the competitiveness of intra-Africa trade.

Implement in full the Yamoussokro Decision: Costs to revamp Africa’s infrastructure are astronomical. However, the cost to revamp the air infrastructure is relatively lower. While urban roads require $20 billion, railways and airports are at $8 billion. This in addition to implementing the Yamoussokro Decision means that Africa can leverage the airline market to enhance connectivity, spur integration and hence economic growth. Currently, airlines account for less than 1 percent of regional connectivity and movement of people and freight, and this low base is an opportunity for market expansion.

 

Regional integration is an imperative whose time has come and should be urgently embraced by every citizen of Africa. By taking the concept of sovereignty so seriously, African countries have missed out on the numerous opportunities that come if deeper integration is fostered. Now more than ever before is Africa’s time and there is no excuse for missing this African moment. Let us all pull together in the spirit of togetherness as a continent and as a people with a common and collective vision. After all, shared wealth and opportunities for jobs amongst African countries is surely better than poverty in sovereignty.

Paris Agreement and Africa: Unlocking Opportunities to Scale out Clean Energy

Paris Agreement and Africa: Unlocking Opportunities to Scale out Clean Energy

Based on the latest scientific findings which include the 2016 UN Environment Emissions Gap Report, the globe is on a warming trajectory set to exceed the 2°C warming thresholds set by the Paris Agreement. 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history.

The projected impacts of this trajectory translate into unprecedented adaptation costs for Africa. Accordingly, the 2015 UN Environments Africa Adaptation Gap Report 2 notes astronomical adaptation costs of $50 billion annually by 2050 for an ideal case of holding warming below 2°C. This impending financing gap is not matched by current resource mobilization which is mostly international.

 

Given the slow pace and unpredictability of international funds, reliance on international public finance alone is a risky strategy. Africa needs to also look internally to complement international sources. The 2015 Africa Adaptation Gap Report concluded that Africa could raise up to $3 billion annually domestically for adaptation by 2020.

Innovative climate finance for Africa

68% of countries in Africa have ratified the Paris Agreement and deposited their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) with the UNFCCC. Up to 60% of these NDCs are land based, focusing on Ecosystem based Adaptation-Driven Agriculture and on Clean Energy, focusing on harnessing the continents clean energy potential. This strategic focus of Ecosystem based Adaptation-Driven Agriculture and Clean Energy which can be amalgamated to actualize clean energy powered agro-industries in Africa represent a catalytic approach to implement Africa’s NDCs.

 

This novel approach is critical to building both biophysical resilience by enhancing ecosystems and offsetting future carbon emissions, as well as socioeconomic resilience by creating income opportunities especially for the youth who currently constitute above 60% of the continent’s population.

Fintech: the combination of the Information Communication technology (ICT) and financial services, popularly known as fintech, provides a test case of innovatively financing Article 4 on mitigation by offsetting carbon from electricity generation through prioritizing clean electricity as targeted by the NDCs.

For example in Kenya, M-Kopa, a pay-as-you-go decentralized solar solutions company, is leveraging on the M-Pesa mobile money solution to provide flexible payment options based on client financial transaction records for acquisition of domestic solar lighting solutions. Through this model, M-Kopa has electrified up to 400,000 rural homes across East Africa in direct fulfillment of the NDC priority to expand clean energy use while offsetting carbon in line with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement.

Building on this success, off-shoots of viable models to finance off-grid clean energy for industrial applications should be targeted for powering EBA-driven agriculture value addition.

Optimize Africa’s agro-value chains

Land & ecosystems degradation means Sub-Saharan Africa food loss due to agro-ecosystem degradation is estimated as high as 6.6 million tonnes of grain annually, enough to meet annual calorific needs of approximately 31 million people. Low value addition means Africa’s average annual cereal grain loss is high, estimated at $4 billion annually. In 2010, the UN FAO estimated Africa’s cumulative PHLs of cereals, roots and tubers, fruits and vegetables, meat, milk and fish to be about 100million tonnes with total value of $48 billion. When juxtaposed with Africa’s $35 billion food import bill in 2011, recovering these losses would essentially eliminate the need for imports without increasing production while injecting an extra $35 billion to capitalize other sectors of the continent’s economy. Amalgamating on-farm Ecosystems Based Adaptation approaches (EBA) with clean energy for value addition will mean the region eliminates current losses along the entire agro-value chain to potentially save up to $35 billion in annual food imports.

 

Improve tax administration capacity: Curtailing Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) estimated at $50-60 billion annually, significantly attributable to tax evasion in Africa’s natural capital/environmental assets will recoup resources for investment in the catalytic areas capable of unlocking multiple SDGs. Improved tax administration is a key strategy to eliminate IFFs. These recouped revenues could, through targeted policies, be invested in NDCs implementation aimed at maximizing the catalytic areas.

Maximize diaspora remittances for the catalytic areas: Annual remittances from Africans in the diaspora have risen to over 2% of continental GDP at over $41 billion. These monies go directly to households. To ensure they contribute to accelerating actualization of SDGs, governments need to ensure recipients of diaspora funds have opportunities to invest them in the catalytic area. For this, Ministries of Environment could work with Ministries of Finance to develop policy incentives for banks to develop loan products for enterprises based on the catalytic sectors and targeted at recipients of diaspora remittances. Such loan facilities should offer competitively priced/low interest loans to recipients of these diaspora funds based on their remittance transaction records and tied to investment in enterprises in the catalytic areas of EBA driven agriculture and linkage to clean energy powered value addition.

Finally…

Faced with daunting financing needs, it is Africa’s moral and economic responsibility to take active steps to create a more sustainable financing model for Africa’s climate action and development. As Africa continues to lobby for international support, it should not be forgotten that in the long-term, a sustainable financing model will not be achieved through reliance on international funds only. Africa urgently requires funding for climate resilient development and plugging IFFs and other leakages as a good starting point. In short, the answer to Africa’s financing is clear: the efforts have to be internal and if this is done, the continent may well be on the brink of a transformation for the collective benefit of all. This is what we must do beginning today.

Optimizing African Food Systems

Optimizing African Food Systems

In Africa, agriculture is not only a source of food and nutrition but of incomes, employing up to 64 percent of labor on the continent with women producing up to 80 percent of food. It is therefore the most accessible sector. Investments to enhance productivity in this sector will ensure not only food security but also inclusive growth, opportunity and poverty reduction.

The World Bank reports that in Africa, a 10 percent increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7 percent reduction in poverty. Growth in agriculture is 2-4 times more effective in reducing poverty than is any other sector. Consequently, in Africa, investment to enhance productivity in this sector using Ecosystems Based Adaptation approaches (EBA) could potentially result in achievement of SDGs 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 13, and 15. Globally, the food and agriculture industry represents a massive component of the global economy. It represents approx. 10 percent of global GDP, representing approx. $70 trillion, and 70 percent of the world’s poorest families are employed in agriculture. Considering that hungry people cannot be productive in any sector, the achievement of the SDGs are hinged on a productive agriculture and food security sector

Optimizing the agro-value chain

With the right approaches that work with nature, efforts to optimize the agro-value chain in Africa can result in not only food security but also cross-cutting benefits, including a healthy environment, healthy people and poverty reduction. Studies show that optimizing food production through embracing ecosystems based approaches that work with nature can result in yield increases of 116 – 128 percent and accompanying farmer income increases as well as enhanced capacity of ecosystems that underpin healthy environments. Studies further show that forward and backward linkages of these ecological approaches to demand and supply side value chains and value addition activities such as access to lucrative markets, supply of technologies etc. can create additional income opportunities and as many as 17 million jobs for youth on the continent.

 

Value chain services and activities e.g. processing, storage, transportation, etc. will also boost food security and income savings by cutting post-harvest losses that cost the continent up to $4 billion annually in lost food. This is enough food to make an additional 48 million people food secure without increasing production.

Furthermore, it has been scientifically proven that ecologically produced foods are more nutritious because immune-system boosting compounds are more prevalent in ecologically grown crops than conventionally produced crops. Consequently, optimizing the agriculture sector for food security in Africa through embracing EBA-driven agriculture approaches can contribute to cross-cutting benefits – including food and nutritional security contributing to improved immunity and hence health of communities. It also contributes to income and wealth creation hence poverty reduction and improved ecosystems hence healthy environments.

Food systems for a healthy Africa

While the agriculture sector is highly potent in achieving the SDGs and ensuring a healthy and prosperous Africa, this postulation is not pre-ordained neither can it be achieved in isolation. A number of enablers to this optimization, including policies, institutions, investments and markets have to be addressed to unleash this latent potential in the agro-sector. Among areas to be prioritized are as follows:

Influence pro-women empowerment policies: Women account for up to 80 percent of food production and empowering them through relevant policies such as affirmative action in accessing factors of production such as land, financing, technology, extension and training services etc. will go a long way to enhance agro-productivity in Africa. Appropriate affirmative action policies are called for in the AU Agenda 2063 as a potent strategy in enhancing agro-productivity in Africa.

 

Invest in partnerships for implementation: In Africa, the biggest problem is not in generating ideas but in implementing them and this is the case because partnerships needed to ensure implementation are usually not prioritized and fostered. This is set to change with the Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA), a pan-African policy framework and implementation platform founded under the auspices of UNEP and the AU.

EBAFOSA is providing a policy and implementation platform, a solutions space fostering partnerships to blend the strengths of governments, the private sector, non-profits, academia, research and individuals among others to build mutually beneficial partnerships toward achieving implementation. Its mandate seeks to enhance productivity by ensuring proven EBA-driven agriculture approaches and value chains are effectively up-scaled into policy and implementation throughout the continent through country driven processes.

Influence policies to ensure countries invest in rural infrastructure, especially transport and rural electrification through off-grid renewable energy: 70 percent of Africa’s population is rural and engaged in agriculture. While this is the case, less than 50 percent can access adequate roads and only 1 – 8 percent are connected to the grid. Reliable transportation in rural areas is critical in connecting farmers to markets and cutting post-harvest losses currently accounting for as much as $48 billion annually thus enhancing agro-productivity. In addition, considering that up to 70 percent of SSA population resides in rural towns and villages, investment in rural roads as opposed to highways will have a higher cost-benefit ratio. Beyond transport infrastructure, rural electrification, especially through off-grid solutions which are cost-effective in rural market context will catalyze the development of rural value adding agro-industries thus enhance rural economies. Collectively this cuts wastes, enhances productivity of the agriculture sector, improves earnings and hence health and welfare of the majority on the continent.

 

De-risk lending in agriculture in general: Most commercial banks consider lending to agro-sector high risk and are therefore averse to this sector or peg very high interest rates. This greatly hampers productivity through limiting private sector engagement. Governments, working with the private sector and the development partners can come up with appropriate de-risking tools e.g. providing integrated financial security deposited with commercial banks tied to capacity building and farmers using low-risk EBA approaches to enhance chances of successful yields. Commercial loans can be issued to farmers who certify these requirements, including women farmers at low / affordable interest rates considering the 3-pronged de-risking tool – security deposited by governments; training and capacity building offered by development partners; Low risk EBA approaches used by farmers

Influence Africa trade policy reforms to ensure they promote intra-regional trade: Intra-Africa, trade is the lowest in the world at 12 percent compared to 25 percent in South East Asia, 65 percent in Western Europe and 45 percent in North America. Enhancing intra-African trade can earn Africa an extra $20 billionannually hence enhance agro-productivity. In addition, the African Development Bank observes that Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest visa requirements. This restricts movement of people who would otherwise facilitate enhanced trade, job creation and even technology transfer through peer-to-peer learning of accessible productivity enhancing technologies. For instance, the zai water harvesting technology known to increase yields by 50 – 100 percent in the Sahel. Other regions across Africa, like the East Africa regions some of which suffer similarly dry conditions like the Sahel could benefit from peer-to-peer learning if there was freer movement of people across the continent. These restrictions therefore imply missed opportunities to enhance productivity.

 

Push for the full liberalization of Africa’s air space to enhance regional & international trade: With African open skies, aviation represents an authentic tool for growing domestic and international trade, including trade in agriculture through fast and affordable transportation. This will enhance productivity through enhancing competitive markets. Transport costs are 63 percent higher in Africa than in developed countries, and expanding intra-regional air-connectivity will consolidate the continents markets, reduce trading costs and improve competitiveness of Africa’s produce in local and international markets.

Break institutional silos in decision making: The enablers of an optimized agriculture sector cut across a number of institutions and government ministries. For instance, a decision to prioritize investment in rural infrastructure to enable agro productivity may take coordination between the agriculture ministry, energy ministry, transport & infrastructure ministry, rural development ministry, industrialization ministry, lands ministry and the finance ministry to ensure adequate budgetary allocation to implement policy decisions. Initiatives such as the Ecosystem based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) platform seeks to break such silos and facilitate seamless interaction between these decision makers to ensure formulation of requisite policies. It also goes further to pull in the private sector to facilitate effective and efficient implementation of policy. Such should be supported across board.

Influence education policies to ensure the latest productivity enhancing technologies are intefrated into agriculture curriculum from primary to tertiary and university level: This will ensure that students are adequately equipped with knowledge of existing latest technologies and how to effectively use them towards enhancing productivity.

Invest in youth entrepreneurship programmes: Youth form a majority of Africa’s population in addition to being majority unemployed at 60 percent. This scenario presents an opportunity to realize a demographic dividend in the continent. Empowering these youth to create enterprises along the agro-value chain while feeding Africa will go a long way to optimize the sector. Both the government and private sector should invest in integrated youth empowerment programmes to empower them to develop enterprises along the entire agro-value chain. Such programmes can focus on training on practical business skills e.g. proposal development, communication, life skills, interpersonal skills and introduce incubation centers to help young people acquire technical skills & technologies and market conditions to enable them to launch their entrepreneurial ideas into enterprises.

How optimizing agro-value chain will revamp a healthy Africa

 

Generally speaking, Africa is not a healthy continent and it lags behind the rest of the world in all the indicators of health. Few African countries are able to spend the WHO recommended $35 per person for minimum healthcare. For a reserved population figure of 900 million, this may translate to a minimum of up to $32 billion investment required to uplift Africa’s healthcare. Besides producing more nutritious food under EBA approaches, optimizing productivity of the agriculture sector in Africa could go a long way in bridging the resources gap the continent needs to revamp and develop its healthcare.

With the above policy recommendations, Africa can realize a huge income source in agriculture.

The African food market is projected to grow from $50 billion in 2010 to $150 billion by 2030. Other estimates project that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in African agriculture is projected to grow from less than $10 billion in 2010 to more than $45 billion in 2020. When optimized, it is estimated that Africa’s agro-value chain, could be worth $1 trillion by 2030.

On job creation, the rice sector alone has the potential to employ many of the 17 million young people who enter the job market annually in S-Saharan Africa. On poverty reduction, research postulates that agriculture can reduce poverty twice as fast as growth in other sectors.

Cumulatively, this optimization means improved tax collection for governments in Africa, as it will entail increased entrepreneurship and private sector action. Such improvements can then be coupled with appropriate tax management measures and policy to prioritize investments in affordable and accessible healthcare. Indeed, African governments could potentially realize the US$ 32 billion the continent needs to revamp and develop its health system.

It also means improved family incomes for hitherto 70 percent poor households, and an enhancement of their ability to save and access better healthcare. It means more jobs for the 60 percent jobless youth, hence enhanced family incomes and savings. Improved savings will also enable citizens to invest in small businesses to enhance their family incomes, and hence afford incrementally, better health care. Thus investments to optimize the agro-value chain means better healthcare in Africa.

A Dream come True

Building on these areas will go a long way in ensuring agriculture not only feeds Africa but promotes inclusive growth and a healthy people in a healthy environment. Though this sounds like a dream come true, it is an imperative that, we all must commit ourselves to it all levels of policy, institutional, regulatory and financing. For the poverty, malnutrition, food loses, poor markets, poor roads, we see today must be transformed into the wealth and fortunes that will guarantee a prosperous healthy people in a healthy environment in tomorrow’s Africa.

Delivering Sustainable Development Goals in Africa

Delivering Sustainable Development Goals in Africa

On the 25-27 September 2015 world leaders unanimously adopted the sustainable development goals (SDGs) during the 70th UN General Assembly. This signaled a common global intent to transition to economic, social and environmental progress in the next 15 years, a united mutually collective front against hunger, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment, disease, climate change, low agricultural productivity, degraded ecosystems and social inequity, among the notable challenges particularly facing Africa.

Achieving the SDGs effectively, in a fast, efficient, impactful and lasting way will require innovative action from all.

Workable approaches

The World Bank reports that in Africa, a 10% increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7% reduction in poverty. Growth in agriculture is at least two to four times more effective in reducing poverty than in other sectors. This is crucial considering agriculture employs 60% of the labor force on the continent hence its importance in advancing inclusive growth.

However, despite these opportunities, climate change threatens the sector’s productivity with projected 11-40% yield reductions of major staples and additional alarming threats through rainfall variability. Yet the sector is 98% rain fed. Climate change induced moisture stress as clearly shown in the UNEP Africa Adaptation Gap Report could potentially increase incidences of undernourishment by 25 – 90% and put 50% of Africa’s population under risk of undernourishment. Through EBA-driven (ecosystem based adaptation) agriculture, solutions abound.

 

Optimizing food production through embracing ecosystems based approaches can result in yield increases of 116 – 128% and accompanying farmer income increases, optimize on-farm production by eliminating losses in potential harvests due to degraded ecosystems that top 6.6 million tonnes of grain annually, improve nutrition, enhance capacity of ecosystems, and enhance community climate resilience. Linking these ecological approaches to supply and demand side value chains and value added services e.g. storage, efficient market linkage, transportation, processing etc. can potentially spur additional income and business opportunities along the entire agro-value chain, optimize the post-farm gate value chain by cutting postharvest losses costing Africa up to $4 billion annually and in the process, create more income and as many as 17million sustainable jobs annually for our youth.

 

This vital truth is implied in the SDGs in addition to pivotal continental blueprints including the Maputo and Malabodeclarations, AMCEN Cairo Declaration, the AU Agenda 2063 etc.

An overriding theme in these blueprints is the need for modernization and optimization of Africa’s agriculture while at the same time ensuring the productivity of the very ecosystems that underpin agricultural productivity are safeguarded for future generations.

Glaring gaps

However, regardless of how promising these blue-prints are, past precedence shows that achieving them is not a given. For instance, only 13 countries, a lowly 24% had met or surpassed the Maputo declaration target of spending 10% of GDP in agriculture even after a decade. The situation is similar with the MDGs, where sub-Saharan Africa was reported as lagging in all the goals, and facing challenges in implementation. This seems to show that aside from attractive development blue-prints, their achievement is not predestined. It requires partnerships to blend the strengths of governments, the private sector, non-profits among others as implied in goal 17 of the SDGs. To date, gaps in fostering these partnerships have led to the perpetuation of the policy – action gap that has long stymied development in Africa. These are gaps in financing, in commercialization, in technology transfer, in techniques among others. It is in addressing these glaring gaps and optimizing the entire agro-value chain holistically that the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) has been established.

Fostering partnerships, bridging glaring gaps for implementation

 

EBAFOSA was formed following the 2nd Africa EBA for food security conferenceconvened by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), African Centre for Technology Studies and other partners on 30-31 July 2015 where 1200 delegates from all across Africa unanimously adopted the “Nairobi Action Agenda” and the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) as the continental policy platform to foster and nurture partnerships through branch formation in each country.

EBAFOSA is the first inclusive pan-African policy framework and implementation platform, a solutions space that brings together key stakeholders and actors along the entire EBA driven agriculture value chain, from government & the public sector, the private sector, academia & research, NGOs, CSOs, international organizations and individual publics at country and continental level to forge partnerships aimed at upscaling EBA driven agriculture and its value chains into policy & implementation through a country driven process to ensure food security, climate adaptation, enhanced productivity of ecosystems and link to supply and demand side value chains to create numerous income and job opportunities, especially for the youth who form 60% of the unemployed in Africa. Through providing a platform for Business to Business, Business to Government, Business to Research, Person to Person, Government to Research etc. interactions, EBAFOSA catalyzes a building of synergy for implementation actions.

The EBAFOSA Approach

Some gaps will simply be bridged through peer-to-peer learning across the continental EBAFOSA membership, where successful applications in one area can be transplanted to other locations. A good example in peer learning to bridge the technology gaps can be the zai (Ancient West African Farming Technique), an innovative EBA technology by farmers that is simple, low-cost, and accessible and has been refined over time. Discovered and widely used in the dry Sahel region to improve soil fertility and moisture retention, and reclaim severely degraded farm-lands, zai has been used to effectively raise farm yields from virtually nothing to 300 to 400 kg/ha in a year of low rainfall, and up to 1,500 kg/ha or more in a good year. The zai is addressing degradation and productivity challenges that farmer in other arid areas of Africa e.g. Northern Kenya face.

Through simple peer-to-peer interactions facilitated through the EBAFOSA platform, Sahelan farmers can transfer these techniques to their Kenyan peers. However, these pockets of knowledge and solutions within countries must be mobilized first for on-ward continental exchange and dissemination hence the importance of setting country branches.

 

Country Branches as cells of Innovation and Partnerships

EBAFOSA uses a hub strategy where country branches register local, continental and global actors within the country and facilitate their interactions and partnership building through a range of country level networking and exchange activities. These partnerships are further enriched by inter-country interactions and partnerships that are facilitated by a continental coordinating secretariat through a series of continental level exchange and networking activities. Through these two levels of interaction platforms – country and continental, EBAFOSA seeks to build local, continental and global partnerships for implementation that will ensure achievement of the SDGs 2 & 17 at the minimum.

As a crucial first step, EBAFOSA through its governing protocols creates a framework – a structure for organized interaction and action toward these partnerships. Secondly, EBAFOSA mobilizes membership from key stakeholders, solutions providers from country, continental and global levels, whose partnerships will be needed to ensure the holistic EBA and the value chains approach is up-scaled into policy and implementation across the continent. Thirdly, EBFOSA provides the platform, a solutions space where partnerships between these critical stakeholders can be forged to ensure policy uptake and implementation of solutions.

This practically means for instance, linking registered farmers to registered value added service providers be they in technology such as innovative EBA techniques e.g. zai, innovative storage technologies, preservation technologies etc., linking registered farmers to registered processing markets e.g. fruit processing industries, animal feeds industries, flour processing industry etc., leveraging on anticipated profits to link private sector actors to government policy makers so shared infrastructure e.g. roads, electricity etc. can be developed to enhance agro-productivity, linking registered farmers to registered extension / training service providers, linking registered farmers to registered fresh produce markets etc. all under the EBAFOSA platform.

 

The basis of these partnerships and synergetic activity is mutual benefits expected to accrue to these stakeholders including investment opportunities, access to larger, consolidated markets, enriched policy formulation & deployment, job creation, skills & technology transfer, enhanced supply chain efficiencies, product branding & promotion among others.

This approach of building partnerships between solutions providers and in the process enhancing food security while catalyzing additional income and livelihood opportunities along the agro-value chain is already being applied successfully at lower scales across Africa.

For instance, in Zambia, Ms. Sylvia Banda is blazing the trail of women entrepreneurship by leveraging value addition through primary and secondary processing, marketing and offering training to local farmers. By focusing on tapping opportunities along the entire agro-value chain, Sylvia has managed to grow her business to include a food processing plant, an eatery, a training school, a NGO through which she offers business training to farmers and helps them secure additional markets for their produce, including in her own factory. The result is a synergetic mutually benefiting partnership between Sylvia and the farmers. For instance when she builds the farmers’ capacity so they produce more and earns more, they in turn become clients and suppliers to her training school and processing factory respectively, thereby creating incomes not only for herself but the community as well.

In Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania, the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) is implementing a similarly themed model that builds mutual partnerships and blends strengths of the nonprofit, government, research and private sectors toward realization of SDG 2. Within the CDI, strategic partnerships between governments and private sector actors along the value chain are bridging the infrastructure gap. These will be replicated to a wider scale under EBAFOSA. For instance, less than 50% of Africa’s producers have access to adequate roads yet reliable transportation in rural areas is critical in connecting farmers to supply (inputs) and demand (produce) markets and social service networks, hence ensuring inclusive growth through agriculture. Consequently, transport costs represent between 30 – 50% of total value of produce and profitability is greatly hampered. However through EBAFOSA, agreements where shared infrastructure can be developed in close proximity to enterprises who then use a share of their profits to maintain them can be reached.

Progress to date

Just 60 days into rolling out EBAFOSA, significant progress has been made. Country level branches have been established across the continent. Country level mobilization of stakeholder membership is on-going, with registrations facilitated through both online media at www.ebafosa.org led by country branch officials.

Delivering on SDGs

SDG 2 aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, with targets to this effect to be achieved by 2030. SDG 13 calls for action to combat climate change. SDG 15 calls for sustainable management and restoration of ecosystems. Goal 2 can be directly fulfilled in EBAFOSA as it seeks to upscale EBA driven agriculture which has proven to ensure food & nutritional security with 116 – 128% increases in yields and accompanying farmer income increases, and also link to value chain services and activities e.g. processing, storage, transportation, etc. to cut postharvest losses that cost the continent up to $4 billion annually, food enough to make an additional 48 million people food secure without increasing production as well as create additional income and job opportunities.

Simultaneously EBA approaches restore and enhance the capacity of ecosystems, hence upscaling EBA driven agriculture as EBAFOSA seeks to do enhances achievement of goal 15. Goal 13 on climate change is also covered. Through benefits such as increased farmer incomes and enhanced capacity of ecosystems to adapt to climate variability that EBA driven agriculture ensures, EBAFOSA by upscaling EBA driven agriculture techniques therefore builds community climate resilience through leveraging healthy ecosystems and enhanced community earnings.

 

SDG 8 calls for inclusive sustainable growth, job creation and decent employment. EBAFOSA by seeking to enhance the productivity and earning capacity of the agriculture sector which employs a majority – 60% of continental labor sector and using approaches that work with nature, promotes inclusive sustainable economic growth. And by linking to supply and demand side value chains to create additional income and higher wage job opportunities along the value chain, promotes decent work. The EBAFOSA platform is indeed a timely intervention in ensuring the SDGs, especially 2 and 17 are achieved in Africa.

SDG 17 is on strengthening means of implementation and building partnerships for sustainable development. By fostering partnerships between solutions providers in public, private sector, academia, CSOs, NGOs etc. so as to bridge gaps in enabling policy, financing, commercialization, technology transfer, skills, techniques etc., and achieve implementation, EBAFOSA contributes to SDG 17.

The EBAFOSA platform is indeed a timely intervention to ensure delivery of the SDGs in Africa. By focusing on building relevant partnerships across solutions providers be they local or international, and on leveraging healthy ecosystems as central to achieving food security, and sustainable inclusive growth, EBAFOSA is positioned as a platform that could potentially see Africa meaningfully achieve SDGs 2, 8, 13, 15 and 17. It is hence a crucial vehicle in Africa’s post-2015 and post COP21 journey.

The last 30 years have been phenomenal in human history and there is no doubt that Africa is set to emerge. But it should also be known that this is not pre-ordained. It will depend upon, not the declarations of good intent but the willingness to innovate, to drive change, develop and scale up appropriate technologies, transform institutions and make Africa the continent of everyone’s dreams: full of prosperity and inclusive growth for hundreds of millions of people. In EBAFOSA lies the opportunities and if tapped can determine whether the 21st century truly belongs to Africa.

Financing Africa’s Development: Is it Time to Look Within?

Financing Africa’s Development: Is it Time to Look Within?

The world is congregating in Paris for CoP21 with objective to securing a new climate deal. This is expected to provide the much needed framework for actualizing the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders just 3 months ago. This event comes just in time following the launch of the 2015 Emissions Gap Report which concludes that the INDC pledges by countries are far from enough and put the world on track for warming of around 3-3.50C by 2100 despite the global target for a below 20C scenario.

The implication is Africa’s adaptation costs could soar to $50 – 100 billion by 2050. How funds will be raised to ensure adaptation as well as keep temperatures from rising to dangerous levels is critical to the realization of the Agenda 2030 in Africa and beyond. Notwithstanding that international climate financing is expected to be among key items to be addressed by the Paris deal, there is consensus in the global community that financing development and especially the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development will require trillions of dollars, and public financing alone is inadequate. Continentally, this consensus is captured in a number of continental blue prints including the key AU Agenda 2063, and recent AMCEN Cairo declaration and the 2015 second Africa Adaptation Gap report (AAGR2).

For instance, Africa’s energy sector needs investment of $55 billion annually until 2030 to achieve universal access to electricity. On climate adaptation, Africa needs to invest between $50 to 100 billion annually by 2050. The ‘no-action’ option will be costlier. These two are amid other priorities such as transport infrastructure requiring investments of $11 billion annually, universal education $26 billion annually, healthcare $30 billion annually among others.

The needed imperative to look within

Regardless of this great need, Africa can no longer rely on external development finance alone. Official development assistance (ODA) to Africa is declining. Pledges from the G8 have been far from materializing, and where they come through Africa gets only a fraction of the money. A 2005 pledge by the G-8 to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010 (half of which destined for Africa) did not materialize. Instead, aid increased by $30 billion and only $11 billion went to Africa.

On climate financing, while developed countries pledged up to $100 billion annually to the UN’s green climate fund by 2020, at the moment, the GCF’s capitalization only reached about $10 billion at COP20, being pledges from only 10 countries.

It is clear that relying on external aid alone is a risky strategy and Africa needs to look within.

The 2nd Africa Adaptation Gap Report (AAGR2) documented this imperative for climate financing and through analysis, concluded that Africa could raise up-to $3 billion from internal sources for adaptation. Countries should take steps individually and collectively under the AU to formulate task forces toward operationalizing recommendations of self-financing in this report. The rationale to look internally is that while Africa has largely relied on international financing for adaptation, the amounts and pace of disbursement has not reflected continental urgency. As a vulnerable region, the continent cannot afford to defer adaptation financing and should take pro-active steps internally even as it continues to lobby for international support. In addition, whatever funds are raised domestically can be leveraged as seed capital to unlock additional large scale funds.

A key area highlighted as a source of these internal funds is stymieing Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), where the continent is losing an estimated at $50 – 60 billion annually. Cumulatively, Africa has lost amounts estimated at $1.2 – 1.3 trillion between 1980-2009 through IFFs. This is an amount that could have covered Africa’s external debt four times. These colossal losses lay the case that by stemming these IFFs as alluded by the 2015 joint AU/ECA high level panel report on IFFs, Africa can recoup enough resources to leverage international sources of funds and finance its development programs.

Targeted areas to stymie IFFs

Tax code reforms: Upgrading Africa’s tax code to reflect the continents growth will aid in sealing revenue losses out of lax taxation. Sensitivity analysis of projected average real GDP growth vis-a-vis potential tax revenues paints an increasingly optimistic picture for the continents resilient growth progress. From a baseline of 8% average growth and 12% tax share of GDP, it is projected that for average GDP growth of 8 – 9% and a linear increase in the tax share of GDP of between 12 – 17% between 2019 – 2030, low income countries in Africa can afford to dedicate a maximum of $248 million annually for resilience building initiatives. A similar scenario will generate about $233 million annually for recent middle income countries and up to $961 million per annum for upper middle income countries. Juxtaposing against needs for instance in the energy sector, where Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) needs to invest $55 billion annually to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030, tax reform to increase SSA tax-to-GDP ratio by 1% will generate 50% of the required amount.

Partnerships to improve tax administration: It is documented that an investmentof $1 in capacity building in policies and strengthening tax administration institutions can return as much as $1,650. Key areas of focus to seal IFF loopholes should be improving regulatory oversight in tax administration and enhancing negotiating capacities with multi-national companies.

Fiscal reformsScraping unnecessary tax expenditures, such as incentives given to investors who are attracted by natural resources or a growing consumer base. These expenditures constitute a significant loss of revenue for the region rangingfrom 1.7 – 4% of GDP in individual countries, and create loopholes for fraud. Oil subsidies where 65% of subsidies in Africa benefit the richest 40% of households hence defeat the intended social impact, but potentially feed into corrupt cartels represents another target area of reform. Countries could recoup as much as $8 billion, for re-investment in health care, education, agriculture and other inclusive sectors.

Optimize agro-value chains and recover food: In a continent where about 240 million people go to bed hungry, and food imports exceed exports by 30%, Africa loses as high as 6.6 million tons of grain annually, enough to meet annual calorific needs of approximately 31 million people, due to degraded ecosystems. It also loses food worth $48 billion annually as post-harvest losses. When juxtaposed with Africa’s $35 billion annual food import bill, which is also an avenue for fraud, recovering these losses would essentially eliminate the need for imports without increasing production, while injecting an extra $35 billion to capitalize other sectors of the continent’s economy. Optimizing the agro-value chain by embracingEBA approaches and linking these to value addition in a continuum can not only save Africa up to $35 billion in annual food imports but catalyze an agro-economy that could be valued at $1 trillion by 2030.

A practical area where the recouped $35 billion could be invested is in lowering risks in the agro-sector to encourage commercialization. Despite the sectors significant potential in poverty reduction, job-creation potential and enhancing inclusive, sustainable growth, most commercial banks consider it a high risk sector, and are therefore averse to it pegging very high interest rates. This greatly hampers productivity through limiting private sector engagement. Governments could use recouped funds and working with the private sector and the development partners develop appropriate de-risking tools to reverse this scenario.

As an example, providing integrated credit guarantees to commercial banks tied to capacity building and farmers using low-risk EBA approaches to enhance chances of successful yields. Commercial loans can be issued to farmers who certify these requirements, including women farmers at low/affordable interest rates considering the 3-pronged de-risking tool – security deposited by governments; training and capacity building offered by development partners; Low risk EBA approaches used by farmers.

For instance, in Kenya, a partnership between AGRA, the government and IFADestablished a credit guarantee scheme with a local commercial bank. Through this scheme, the partners placed $5 million in the bank to leverage $50 million in lending, and the results proved the effectiveness of this model.

Optimize diaspora financing: Remittances from Africans in the diaspora are rising. The 2013 valued at $32 billion, or around 2% of GDP are rise to over $41 billion in 2016. However, the amount of money hemorrhaging as transfer charges is colossal. Charges on remittances to Africa are at 12%, well above global average of 7.8%. This translates to approximately $1.4 billion annually that Africa loses. By reforming financial governance and increasing efficient access to financial services in Africa, and improving competition by eliminating oligarchs and increasing transparency in transfer fees among service providers in the international money transfer market, through appropriate global policy, private sector action and information management (as simple as an AU run website posting transfer costs for different service providers), will drive down prices. Africa can then recoup these finances, and bring its total diaspora portfolio to $42 billion annually by 2016.

With these remittances creating additional opportunities could be optimized for recipients to invest in adaptation projects in the local economy and spur further growth. This should be a challenge to the financial sector, the banks which could provide credit/loan products based on remittance flows and account balances of clients who are beneficiaries or recipients of remittance. Such loans could be tied to adaptation and entrepreneurial exploits to ensure specific contribution to economic growth in respective countries.

Implement in full recommendations of the AU high level panel: The 2015 joint AU/ECA high level panel report on IFFs makes recommendations on how IFFs can be stemmed by taking targeted actions on the main contributors – the commercial sector (the largest contributor at 60% through profit shifts and tax evasion by corporates), organized crime (about 33%) and public sector activities, with corruption playing a key role in facilitating these outflows. The recommendations are cross cutting broadly covering appropriate action that can be taken by any victim country in African countries should individually and collectively through the AU, develop an implementation framework to ensure full implementation of these recommendations. A starting point can be formation of task forces at country, regional and continental level to come up with steps to operationalize these recommendations.

Conclusions

As COP21 starts, climate financing will be a critical item on the menu. While Africa should continue to lobby for international support, a potential source of funding for adaptation that the continent should pursue collectively and aggressively including through partnerships with the larger G77 is curbing IFFs. Such resources will be essential in developing climate change resilient pilot projects, enhancing capacity building, catalyzing more innovative sources including private sector financing, all toward financing Africa’s climate resilient development. Africa urgently requires funding for climate resilient development and plugging IFFs and other leakages is a good starting point.

Africa’s Historic Moment: Pan-African Food Security

Africa’s Historic Moment: Pan-African Food Security

The ills facing Africa today including low agricultural productivity under a changing climate to Africa’s socio-economic growth are widely documented.

Consequent to low agricultural productivity, Africa spends more than $35 billion annually on food imports while food worth up to $48 billion is lost annually in postharvest losses, and a further 6.6 million tonnes of potential grain harvest, enough to meet annual calorific needs of approximately 30 million people, is lost due to degraded ecosystems.

Exacerbating these challenges is rapid population growth projected to hit 2.4 billion by 2050youth unemployment currently at 60 percent with an additional estimated 350 million young people entering the labor market by 2035, and climate change expected to hit the crucial agriculture sector with 11 – 40 percent yield reductions on key staples. These grim statistics are unacceptable in the face of Africa’s inherent agriculture potential and the prevailing bountiful strategies to harness this potential into affordable and sustainable solutions to inclusive growth.

Africa’s agriculture potential

It is estimated that Africa holds up to 65 percent of the world’s arable land. On incomes and poverty reduction, the World Bank reports that in Africa, a 10 percent increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7 percent reduction in poverty. Neither the manufacturing nor services sectors can achieve an equivalent impact. In addition, agriculture currently employs up to 60 percent labor in the continent, making it the most potent conduit sector through which inclusive growth in Africa can be achieved. However, current productivity of Arica’s agriculture is low, contributing a lowly 25 – 34 percent of continental GDP.

 

Nevertheless, agriculture can potentially ensure inclusive and sustainable growth in the continent if its value chain is optimized holistically.

It can create jobs for many of the 17 million youth entering the job market annually while simultaneously feeding Africa. A climate proofed agriculture sector based on EBA techniques that work with nature and augmenting on farm productivity with value addition strategies to unlock income opportunities along the entire agro-value chain will potentially result in yield increases of 116 – 128 percent and accompanying farmer income increases, and be two to four times more effective in reducing poverty relative to other sectors.

A new African beginning

Conference deliberations were founded on a ground breaking study done by a continental task-force team that underscored the transformative benefits of EBA driven agriculture to Africa and how it can be up scaled and entrenched into policy throughout the continent.

Based on the taskforce findings, EBA driven agriculture augmented with value addition along the agro-value chain can potentially ensure not only food and nutritional security, but livelihood security,enhanced community climate resilience, enhanced ecosystem productivity and unleash numerous income and job opportunities along the value chain.

While this is the case, to date, the long term effectiveness and efficiency of mainstream agricultural productivity strategies – such as extensification based on clearing large tracts of land to grow more food and subsidizing fertilizer to achieve more usage – without taking into account sustainability of ecosystems, is doubtful. For instance, Malawi’s experiment with large scale fertilizer subsidiesproved economically unsustainable among small holders as long term affordability of subsidies proved untenable and environmentally unsustainable, with soils degraded due to un-metered application of fertilizers.

On land uses, between 2000 and 2010, up to 13 million hectares of forest were cleared annually in Africa primarily to expand land for food and fuel. The consequence was a degradation of ecosystems that underpin food production in the first place and loss in potential yields further compounding the food security scenario. As an example, due to deforestation, up to 6.6 million tones of potential grain yields are lost annually in Africa.

It can be said that left unchecked, such approaches contribute to the virtual cycle of poverty and food insecurity in the continent.

It is against this backdrop, that UNEP in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and other partners convened the 2nd Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference to deliberate the wide scale implementation of a transformative strategy to enhance agricultural productivity in Africa that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

The conference converged over 1200 delegates – experts in policy, the public and private sector, representatives of regional economic communities, UN agencies, academia, research think tanks, civil society, youth organizations, NGOs, students and the general public from across Africa and the globe.

The express mandate of this congregation was to deliberate and adopt transformative instruments toward implementing a transformative strategy for upscaling EBA-driven agriculture and its value chains across the entire continent, to ensure not only food security, but also economic and environmental benefits toward solving Africa’s nexus challenges of food insecurity, poverty, youth unemployment, environmental degradation and climate change. This innovative and participatory approach, premised on decentralization and generating continental ownership & buy-in holds great promise of progress in solving the continents food & livelihood security challenges, climate resilience as well as achievement of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) toward sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Africa.

To this end, the conference deliberations were organized around key agents that can transform dominant agricultural development paradigms towards EBA-driven agriculture. This was tackled under the following core themes: harnessing EBA to protect and restore Africa’s ecosystems and contribute to reduction in postharvest losses; building scalable and inclusive business models for EBA-driven agriculture that can create opportunities across the entire agricultural value chain; identifying scalable and innovative financing models for EBA-driven agriculture to stimulate growth, job creation and value chain partnerships in Africa; understanding the role of south-south cooperation in harnessing EBA for food security in Africa; identifying and harnessing the role of education, ICTs and data in transforming EBA agriculture in Africa; identifying and harnessing the role of youth and women in upscaling EBA agriculture; identifying enabling policies and legislation that will incentivize countries to invest in agriculture, soil conservation and EBA; and developing strategies to incentivize private sector involvement in EBA-driven agriculture for increased capital mobilization and competitiveness.

Africa’s historic moment

On 31st July, delegates made history by unanimously, through consensus, adopting the “Nairobi Action Agenda on Africa’s Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security” and the “Constitution of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly,” two landmark instruments to facilitate the EBA for food security assembly. Through this assembly, ownership of the process of upscaling the holistic EBA paradigm is decentralized beyond conference rooms and bureaucratic red tape directly to the action area – the country and community levels, where much needed action has been long overdue. This will be achieved through a spoke and hub analogy, where the assembly is hosted on rotation by countries across Africa, and progress, lessons and developments in implementation and upscaling is reported by the assembly to the assembly secretariat that plays the coordination role and overall progress oversight across the continent.

To this end, the three main objectives for the assembly elucidated in the constitution include: promoting environmentally friendly approaches to food production; promoting value addition for all EBA products by efficient technologies; and developing a regional monitoring instrument and evaluation instruments on EBA.

Furthermore, an additional landmark provision in the constitution is the setting up of a Trust Fund to support upscaling activities and provide a platform for voluntary contributions from members, observers and partners.

New era in Africa’s food security

The transformative approach, bringing under one policy framework, the key players involved in enhancing Africa’s food security using ecological approaches hence harmonizing efforts signifies a new era in applying ecological approaches to agricultural productivity in Africa’s food security solutions space. It creates a conducive environment for a participatory, joint-effort approach that promises to be more effective in upscaling into policy and practice, ecological approaches to achieving Africa’s food security. With the structured decentralization of implementation, fostered through instruments ratified in this conference, Africa’s destiny is in its own hands. Through this conference, Africans have been facilitated to take responsibility of their own socio-economic and environmental future through the lens of optimizing agricultural productivity through working with nature. Through this conference, a new page was turned, potentially guaranteeing Africa’s food security and socio-economic progress for posterity. As a journey of 1000 miles begins with one step, the birth is the pan Africa assembly provides an added step for prosperity. So Let us begin!

The Implications of COP21 for Africa

The Implications of COP21 for Africa

Nearly 200 countries from across the globe collectively and unanimously adopted a historic climate deal that commits all countries to emissions cuts and prioritized adaptation. The agreement’s takeaways include keeping global temperature increase “well below” 2C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C, countries to submit updated NDCs every 5 years with each succeeding NDC being progressively more ambitious than the preceding one is a positive step, balanced allocation of finances between adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries; developed countries to communicate every two years the “indicative” amount of money that they will be able to raise over the next two years, and amounts from public financing and developing countries encouraged to raise domestic resources on voluntary basis. It is worth noting Africa could raise up to $3 billion annually domestically for adaptation by 2020.

Paving an inclusive growth pathway

Considering Africa is most vulnerable to past emissions yet its emissions are negligible, inclusion of adaption financing, and a strong review mechanism to increase the amount over time is a vital highlight.

In addition, considering the region is not locked in ‘carbon intensive growth models’ this deal is a probable win-win, providing an opportunity for sustainable industrial development with minimal or zero transition costs by leveraging opportunities in both adaptation and mitigation. But this is not a given. The onus is on governments, the private sector, development partners, academia, and all of good will to actualize this win-win by prioritizing investments that leverage the Paris Agreement Framework.

Opening the door to innovative solutions

Energy poverty in Africa is high at over 60% or 621 million people while the continent has vast renewable resources. The situation is worse in rural areas, where 70% of Africa’s poor reside. Here, grid access is estimated at only 1% – 8%. This unavailability constricts inclusive development. In addition, Africa’s poor living on less than $2.50 daily pay up to 20 times more, an estimated $10 billionannually on unclean sources for lighting than rich households connected to the grid spend on their lighting, further entrenching poverty circles.

However, a proposal out of Paris to mobilize resources in solar investment is an opportunity that governments in Africa can tap through relevant policy and attract such investments to bridge this gap. Countries need to start by formulating policies that incentivize investment in clean energy, off and mini-grids to expand energy access to vulnerable poor rural communities and spur rural industry and create jobs without piling up carbon.

This should be concurrent with policies to dis-incentivize over reliance on fossil fuels. It is worth noting that oil subsidies in Africa cost an estimated $50 billion every year, and 65% of subsidies in Africa benefit the richest 40% of households. Considering that this amount equals 5.7% of Africa’s GDP and exceeds the regions spending on health, scrapping subsidies and redirecting funds to low carbon initiatives is a worthy policy move towards more economically inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies. Reversing this through investing in off-grid and mini-grid clean energy solutions which are the most economical solution for electrification in remote areas will improve household savings & create jobs, thus combat poverty while reducing emissions.

Clean energy for Wealth Creation

Globally, the renewable energy sector created 7.7 million jobs in 2015, an 18% increase from 2014. In Africa, while this potential is yet to be fully unleashed, it is projected that the continent can create a thriving electricity supply industry with an estimated 2.5 million temporary and permanent jobs. Specifically, for solar, with the abundant sunshine and over 50% of Africa’s population not connected to the grid, demand for solar home systems (SHS) to fill this gap is great. In meeting this demand, potential for job creation for Africa is immense, as demonstrated by Bangladesh a member of the Least Developed Country groups, whose SHS sub-sector created in excess of 115,000 direct jobs and an additional 50,000 induced in downstream business due to availability of solar in rural areas. Africa can replicate this success by ensuring financial and technical support from governments aligned to new business models.

On savings, Africa’s poor households, which spend up to 20 times more on energy for lighting than high-income households connected to the grid can make plausible savings of up to $8 billion by making grid power and off-grid renewable options like solar more accessible to them. In total, switching to clean and accessible grid can reduce poverty in SSA by 16 – 26 million people.

Environmentally, it is projected that leading up to 2040, Africa can potentially achieve a 27% reduction in C02 emissions with an up-scaled clean energy sector. Africa should capitalize on clean energy to sustainably improve access to power and accrue socio-economic and environmental benefits to its people.

Optimize the agro-value chain

The deal expressed the need to restore degraded lands in Africa. Proposals of restoring not less than 127 Ha of degraded lands in Africa and other parts of the world, mostly agro-ecosystems elicit opportunities for simultaneous climate adaptation, food security and income & job creation by prioritizing optimized agro-value chains. With relevant policy and partnerships, this could also be achieved through voluntarily mobilizing internal resources as proposed in the deal.

In Africa, agriculture is not only a source of food but of livelihoods. The sector employs up to 64% of the population, 70% of Africa’s poor reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture with women producing up to 80% of the food. Investments to enhance productivity in this sector will ensure not only food security but inclusive growth, opportunity and poverty reduction. Optimizing the agro-sector in Africa through applying Ecosystem Based Adaptation approaches (EBA) that enhance ecosystems and linking these ecological approaches to supply and demand side value chains including affordable financing, off-grid / mini grid clean energy for processing to spur rural agro-industry and value addition is a potential silver bullet solution to achieving climate adaptation from enhanced ecosystems, food security, incomes and job creation all without further escalating greenhouse gases.

Embracing EBA for on-farm production can enhance yields by up to 128%, lower climate induced crop failure risks and enhance farmer incomes at lower environmental and financial cost. Forward and back-ward linkages of ecological approaches to supply and demand side value chains and value addition enterprises can create as many as 17 million jobs and catalyze an ago-sector projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030. The World Bank reports that in Africa, a 10% increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7% reduction in poverty. Growth in agriculture is at least two to four times more effective in reducing poverty than in other sectors.

Utilizing the Paris Agreement

In Africa, the biggest problem is not in generating ideas but in implementing them and this is the case because partnerships needed to ensure implementation are usually not prioritized. Utilizing already established implementation platforms can provide the needed impetus to implement COP21. The Ecosystem based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) provides this opportunity.

EBAFOSA is an inclusive pan-African policy framework and implementation platform and it provides a solutions space in fostering partnerships to blend the strengths of governments, the private sector, non-profits, academia, research and individuals among others to build mutually beneficial partnerships toward achieving implementation. Its mandate seeks to enhance productivity of the agro-value chain holistically by ensuring proven EBA-driven agriculture approaches and value chains are effectively up-scaled into policy and implementation throughout the continent through country driven processes.

EBAFOSA promotes use of ecological approaches to producing food which enhance yields at minimal environmental cost while simultaneously enhancing ecosystem capacity through improving tree cover, improving soil stability, soil organic matter etc. (e.g. conservation agriculture, agro-forestry etc.). It hence ensures food production processes are sustainable.

EBAFOSA also fosters linkage of ecological approaches to commercial supply and demand side value chains and value addition enterprises to create additional jobs and income opportunities at community and country level. This enhances incomes at communities and country level to enable investment in resilience building.

EBAFOSA also promotes the use of clean energy in value addition processes to reduce the carbon emission of food processing while creating additional income and job opportunities. Higher incomes enhance adaptation capacity of communities.

An Opportunity Not to Miss

The Paris Agreement presents an enormous opportunity to create and implement inspired strategies that utilize new approaches, technologies and foster unprecedented regional cooperation and idea sharing. The potential for lasting change is limitless. Let’s seize the moment and build on these ensuing opportunities! We have the tools to act and all we need is to use them now!

Winning Africa’s Future: Food Security for All

Winning Africa’s Future: Food Security for All

In a little less than 7 days, more than 1400 participants will gather in Nairobi on 30-31 July 2015 to discuss how Africa can win its future under the theme “Re-imagining Africa’s Food Security Now and into the Future under a Changing Climate.” Because the discussion occurs just before two big global conferences slated for 2015, it could set the pace for how Africa can catalyze a just future for all. A future where there will be food and shelter for all- where images like those from the Mediterranean Sea showing Africa’s youth risking and often losing their lives in an attempt to flee the continent will be no more.

In September, New York will host the meeting on the new Sustainable Development Goals. Climate change will be the focus of the December conference in Paris. Taken together, these two conferences represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Africa’s development. As the African saying goes: “When the music changes, so does the dance.” To put all countries firmly on the path to a secured food system as well as inclusive growth, there needs to be a change in the music. A new approach is therefore urgently needed to build an inclusive food system that is robust enough to create jobs and wealth for all in Africa, including the youth.

The Years in Retrospect

Sometimes looking backwards serves to provide the impetus needed to leap forward. Africa has registered impressive milestones in its thousand mile journey towards sustainable inclusive growth. The 1990s marked the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, a continental icon who demonstrated the power of dogged perseverance to one’s course. Today’s course for each and every one of us is that of charting a sustainable food secured pathway where productivity, job creation and collective wellbeing for all are the norm and not the exception.

 

The 2000s marked the beginning of Africa’s decade of growth- averaging 5.1% beginning in the year 2000, and doubling the average growth rate of the 90’s.

This spilled over to post 2010, with estimates pegging Africa’s GDP growth at approximately 6% annually, with 6 of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies being African, and a growing middle class with 20% of the population having daily incomes of over USD 10 as of 2012.

These improvements may well be from a very low base. However, the trajectory of Africa’s transformations is undeniable. The question that will be on the mind of every participant at this year’s 2nd Africa Ecosystem based Adaptation for Food Security (EBAFOSC 2) is how best to achieve Africa’s Food Security Future that is inclusive and works for all.

How do we create enough well-paying jobs for a billion people in less than 25 years when already about 60% of our youth are unemployed? How do we harness EBA- driven agriculture to stimulate job creation, growth, and value additional partnership in Africa? How do we catalyze investments and policy support for EBA-driven agriculture as well as incentivize private sector involvement in EBA-driven agriculture to bring in capital and enhance competitiveness? These are just some of the questions EBAFOSC2 conference will be discussing. Although registration for the conference has now closed, the proceedings can be followed on Twitter at #EBAFOSC.

Africa Food Security Policy Framework

The 2003 Maputo Declaration, marked the continent’s intentions to modernize agriculture resulting in the establishment of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The most prominent decision of this declaration was the commitment by AU member states to allocate at least 10% of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development, a policy implementable within five years.

decade into this declaration, 13 countries had met or surpassed the 10% target and average continental agriculture spending increased by over 7% annually in the period. In marking this decade, the AU launched “the year of agriculture and food security” in 2014, whose climax was the adoption of the Malabo Declaration by AU Heads of State and Government. The Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods is a commitment by the AU Heads of State and governments to end hunger by 2025 and reduce post-harvest losses by 50%. To operationalize the Malabo Declaration, the AUC and NEPAD launched the implementation strategy and road map to achieve the 2025 vision on CAADP. EBA-driven agriculture is recognized as among priority mechanisms for delivering the 2025 Vision on CAADP, a remarkable milestone for EBA. However, this reported growth and declarations of good intent are amidst a plethora of challenges.

Turning Africa’s Challenges into Opportunities

About 240 million people in the continent go to bed hungry; over 200 millionsuffer the debilitating symptoms of chronic to severe malnutrition, which also contributes to over 50% of infant mortality on the continent. The region currently spends more than USD 35 billion annually on food imports while recorded annual productivity losses amount to USD 48 billion as postharvest losses, and a further 6.6 million tonnes as potential grain yields are lost due to degraded ecosystems: food enough to meet the annual calorific needs of approximately 30 million people. Exacerbating these challenges is rapid population growth projected to hit 1.5 billion by 2030 and 2.4 billion by 2050youth unemployment currently at 60% with an additional estimated 350 million young people entering the labor market by 2035, and climate change expected to hit the crucial agriculture sector with 11 – 40% yield reductions on key staples.

While these grim statistics are a resounding call to action, the continent’s inherent agriculture potential is a source of solace…

Africa’s Abounding Solutions

Africa holds up to 65% of the world’s arable land and 10% of internal renewable fresh water sources. On incomes and poverty reduction, the World Bank reportsthat in Africa, a 10% increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7% reduction in poverty. Neither the manufacturing nor service sectors can achieve an equivalent impact. Nevertheless, current sector productivity is low, contributing a lowly 25 – 34% of continental GDP. However, the agriculture sector which currently employs up to 60% of the continent’s labour can potentiallyensure inclusive and sustainable growth if its value chain is optimized holistically, and productivity losses stemmed. It can create jobs for many of the 17 million youth entering the job market annually while feeding Africa. A climate proof agriculture sector based on EBA techniques that work with nature and augment farm productivity with value addition strategies to unlock income opportunities along the entire agro-value chain will potentially result in yield increases of 116 – 128% and accompanying farmer income increases, and be two to four times more effective in reducing poverty relative to other sectors.

A Call to Action

The (EBAFOSC 2), –builds on the findings of the continental task force report“Towards a Comprehensive Strategic Framework to Upscale and Out-scale EBA-driven Agriculture in Africa.” Based on the taskforce findings, EBA driven agriculture augmented with value addition along the agro-value chain can potentially ensure not only food security, but livelihood security, enhance community climate resilience hence climate adaptation, enhance ecosystem productivity and unleash numerous income and job opportunities along the value chain by linking supply and demand side value chains.

Given the central role agriculture plays in socio-economic development in Africa, this conference presents a golden opportunity to put the continent’s food systems on track, now and well into posterity, and thereby guarantee sustainable and inclusive growth going forward.

 

Jointly discussing Africa’s challenges and solutions will propel Africa into the shining city on a hill, where collective prosperity for all will no longer be an elusive dream. As the African saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” Let’s go together to catalyze a food secured Africa and guarantee sustainable and inclusive growth for the collective benefit of all.

Women’s Role in Achieving a Food Secured Africa

Women’s Role in Achieving a Food Secured Africa

The just ended year 2015 was the African Union’s Year of Women Empowerment. In post 2015, one thing is apparent – that Africa will not effectively achieve food security and poverty reduction unless the gender gap in economic opportunities is narrowed. Indeed the importance of women in development is well acknowledged in monumental high level policy decisions. The historic Paris Climate deal marked the first time a climate deal incorporated within its text, gender as a critical consideration when taking action to address climate change. “Women’s access to reliable markets,” also highlights the vital need to achieve gender parity to realize meaningful development. This is in sync with Africa’s own development blue-print, the AU Agenda 2063, which mentions gender parity no less than 35 times, and envisions full gender equality in all spheres of life by 2030.

A food secured Africa

The importance of women empowerment to enhancing agro-productivity and hence combating poverty as underscored in the AU Agenda 2063 is indeed validated by the statistics. Women produce up to 80 percent of food in Africa, both for household consumption and sell, work more average hours in African farms – up to 467 minutes daily compared to 371 minutes for men in some countries, and yet remain marginalized from factors of production. Gender stereotypes and dynamics such as land rights, education, access to technologies, labour, capital, support services and credit, are among stumbling blocks on the path of women progress.

 

Overlooking women in agriculture means Africa is losing out on a great income and livelihood creating opportunity. This is critical considering agriculture employs an average of 64 percent of the population and women produce up to 80 percent of the food.

Consequently, enhancing productivity of women who produce most of the food is a critical step towards optimizing agricultural productivity in Africa.

The World Bank estimates that if women worldwide had equal access to productive resources (seeds, extension services, etc.), 100-150 million fewer people would go hungry every day. This goes to show the great potential that women have. The critical question is how this potential can be optimized in Africa.

Policy approaches

Invest in women financing – enhancing women access to financing has been highlighted by the AU Agenda 2063 as a potent strategy to enhance productivity of women, and hence enhance productivity of agriculture (women provide up to 80 percent of labor) and further enhance socially inclusive growth. The AU Agenda 2063 advocates for dedication of 30 percent of agricultural financing to women and countries should factor this in their budgets.

Investment

Land is a critical factor of production and most African traditions and culture do not allow women to own/inherit land. African governments can remedy this scenario by developing appropriate affirmative action land lease policy for women farmers to ensure hard working women farmers get access to productive land.

De-risk lending

Most commercial banks consider lending to agro-sector high risk and are therefore averse to this sector or peg very high interest rates. Governments, working with the private sector and the development partners can come up with appropriate de-risking tools e.g. providing integrated financial security deposited with commercial banks tied to capacity building and farmers using low-risk Ecosystems Based Adaptation (EBA) approaches to enhance chances of successful yields. Commercial loans can be issued to farmers who certify these requirements, including women farmers at low/affordable interest rates considering the 3-pronged de-risking tool – security deposited by governments; training and capacity building offered by development partners; Low risk EBA approaches used by farmers.

Incentivize women in education

At times due to cultural reasons women in rural areas are not motivated to remain in school. Governments, the private sector and development communities should come up with relevant incentives to ensure girls remain in school. Examples can include favorable terms of employment etc.

Women’s access to reliable markets

Affirmative action policies in accessing market opportunities for women will go a long way in enhancing women agro-productivity. This can be a policy to directly target women in government for agribusinesses, supply of fresh produce etc.

Ensure existing and new policy frameworks

Specifically, women are the primary caregivers in the family and their productive time, especially in rural areas, is split between family and agriculture livelihood activities.

To ensure women appropriately take part in agriculture as a livelihood activity, and their productivity is maximized, compensation and work schedule policies for women in agriculture activities should factor in the need for flexibility between home making and work.

Invest in the government and private sector

Women also form a majority of jobless youth and investing in integrated youth empowerment programs to ensure youth develop enterprises along the entire agro-value chain will go a long way in ensuring that the capacity of women in agriculture is unleashed.

Africa climate adaptation

EBA approaches have proven to safeguard agricultural yields which are less risky under climate change. As more girls attend school and engage in agriculture there needs to be better land rights, better access to financing, better access to extension and advisory services to ensure they are equipped with adequate knowledge on the low cost, low risk EBA approaches so that their agro-endeavors can be optimized. Curriculum developers at all levels of education should ensure that the principles of EbA driven agriculture are integrated from the earliest possible levels of learning to facilitate a generational appreciation of ecosystems among girls in school. This will increase awareness and likelihood of their use later on when they engage in agriculture or are in the policy planning level of an agriculture portfolio.

In addition, refresher courses on EBA should also be given to extension service providers to ensure they offer accurate, up to date advice on implementing EBA techniques to women and farmers in general.

Beyond extension workers, systematic training courses for policy makers, government personnel, planners and managers should be done on a regular basis to ensure they are abreast with the latest information on climate change and EbA strategies so that these strategies are included in the sectorial policies and plans.

Conclusion

The World Bank reports that in Africa, a 10 percent increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7 percent reduction in poverty. Neither the manufacturing nor services sectors can achieve an equivalent impact. Growth in agriculture is at least two to four times more effective in reducing poverty than other sectors. Cumulatively an optimized agro-value chain can potentially catalyze an agro-sector worth up to $1 trillion by 2030 and create as many as 17 million jobs for the youth. However rosy this seems, it cannot be achieved as long as 80 percent of the producers remain marginalized from factors of production. African governments should therefore urgently prioritize policy actions that empower women to unleash their potential for a food secure Africa under the changing climate.

The Road to Paris: What’s at Stake for Africa?

The Road to Paris: What’s at Stake for Africa?

In less than 200 days, the world is expected to agree upon a new climate protocol which will succeed the Kyoto protocol and govern the global climate regime post 2020. In investigating Africa’s stake in this global compact, the continents priorities within the context of available developmental and negotiating mechanisms should be considered given the vulnerability of this region to climate change impacts as attested by the latest scientific reports especially the 2nd Africa Adaptation Gap report.

Aside INDCs, SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063

Aside from Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which would form the basis of negotiating the new climate deal in Paris, the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which hold much promise for Africa, as the global blue print for development post 2015 will constitute another key determinant of Africa’s policy priorities. These postulate that economic, social and environmental development are interlinked and must be addressed together. They also postulate that environmental resources will play a vital role in economic growth in developing countries.

 

Hence, to be relevant to Africa, the Paris agreement must be aligned with the SDGs, and Africa’s own key developmental blue prints – the common position on the post-2015 development agenda (CAP) and the AU Agenda 2063.

Collectively, these blue prints are synonymous with the increasingly important role that natural capital should play in global and regional development and lay an imperative to protect ecosystems. Consequently, priorities for both adaptation and mitigation for Africa are established.

Parity between Adaptation and Mitigation

The 15th session of the Africa Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) held in Cairo concluded with the Cairo Declaration that included inter alia, the need for parity between adaptation and mitigation in the Paris deal. It also called for the need to keep average global temperature rise within 1.50C relative to pre-industrial levels by 2050, signaling an ambitious mitigation call from the continent. This event also marked the launch of the 2nd Africa Adaptation Gap Report that called for ambitious mitigation action leading to deep global emissions reductions, and the need for an innovative financing model for adaptation that integrates up-scaled international financing with domestic regional and national level financing.

A framework for Defining Africa’s Priorities

Collectively, the INDCs, the COP20 call for climate action, the SDGs & CAP, the outcomes of the Geneva climate talks and the Cairo Declaration and 2015 Africa adaptation gap report should provide a framework defining Africa’s priorities.

Consequently, if the Paris deal is to be relevant to Africa, then including the following policy provisions will be strategic toward safeguarding ecosystems and natural capital that will be central to sustainable economic growth in the region

  1. Ambitious mitigation action that will result in a steep decline in global emissions in line with a 1.50C warming scenario.
  2. Technology transfer and capacity building to operationalize a Low Emissions Development (LED) strategy for the region.
  3. Ambitious international financing toward adaptation actions in line with the Cancun climate finance commitments of USD 100billion disbursement annually by 2020. For the subsequent periods, adequate (large-scale and increasing) and predictable funding must be mobilized.
  4. Commitment by Annex I countries to meet their climate obligations to support non-annex countries in line with the UNFCCC charter.
  5. Agreement should ensure adaptation and mitigation action is considered at a par by global players in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities based on respective capabilities.

Africa’s take – Beyond Paris and into the future

While failure in Paris is not an option for the global community, Africa should not passively wait but act in its best interests to ensure protection of its citizens and its ecosystems that underpin economic sectors and which will be key toward building climate resilient communities and economies now and in the future as well as taking action to actualize low carbon development. Taking steps towards leveraging any international support that will come out of Paris, with internal capacities towards implementing a resilient low carbon economy should be the way forward.

For a start, the 2nd Africa Adaptation Gap report documents that domestic resource mobilization efforts toward resilience building, at both national and regional level has potential to raise up to $3 billion annually to buttress international adaptation financing. The continent should fully exploit this potential by implementing self-financing proposals and recommendations captured in not only the gap report, but also in recent significant continental blue prints – the AU Agenda 2063, the AU/ECA High level panel report on illicit financial flows, as well as the Cairo Declaration, that calls for sustainable management of the continents natural capital to achieve the SDGs and eradicate poverty.

On mitigation, at present, the global low-carbon economy has grown close to $5 trillion this year. Africa should not be left out of this trillion dollar sector. In the energy sector for instance, an area of great potential in building low carbon economies, Africa can make great strides by taking practical steps to harness its vast renewable energy potential. Africa receives 325 days per year of sunlight and its hydro-power potential is estimated at 1,852 TWh annually, but is using less than 7%, and less than 2% of its geothermal capacity. Tapping into this potential should be a priority.

 

The climate challenges are immense but at the same time present an opportunity. Creating jobs and sustaining growth as well as eradicating poverty in a carbon-constrained world demands a restructuring of energy systems and a deeper appreciation of the boundaries of the ecological systems. It’s therefore imperative for Africa to seize this opportunity now and into the future.

 
How to Achieve Agro-Industrialization in Africa

How to Achieve Agro-Industrialization in Africa

Achieving agro-industrialization cannot be a reality without factoring in climate change and healthy ecosystems. Climate change threatens to reduce crop yields by up to 40%, hence climate adaptation in agriculture is an imperative. On the other hand, healthy ecosystems are the foundation of long term productivity underpinning food production through ecosystems goods and services such as water, soils, pollinators, etc. Safeguarding them is therefore an imperative.

Linking ecosystems based adaptation approaches (EBA) driven agriculture for on-farm production to clean energy and post farm gate commercial value chains and access to agro-value chain financing in a continuum can potentially ensure Africa actualizes sustainable agro-industrialization. Simultaneously this will unlock socio-economic benefits of food security and job & income opportunities along the entire agro-value chain.

 

This approach is in line with high level global and regional strategic climate and inclusive growth policy positions and aspirations – the AU Agenda 2063 at the regional level, which highlights clean energy and agriculture as priority areas for Africa to realize environmentally sustainable, economically inclusive growth. The Paris COP21 agreement and Agenda 2030 cumulatively buttress sustainable inclusive growth, providing access to quality jobs for structural transformation and poverty reduction.

Investing in EBA Driven-Agriculture and its linkage to clean energy and commercial value chains, can enhance not only food security with up to 128% yield increases but also farmer incomes and create up to 17 million jobs along the entire value chain while catalyzing an agro-sector worth $1 trillion by 2030. EBA-driven agriculture is also known to result in healthier food while clean energy options reduce pollution, all contributing to good health, while also enhancing the health of ecosystems. In addition, the World Bank reports that in Africa, a 10% increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7% reduction in poverty. Growth in agriculture is at least two to four times more effective in reducing poverty than in other sectors. EBA based agro-industrialization is a potential “silver bullet” that could potentially catalyze achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Linking EBA-driven agriculture to clean energy as a pathway to agro-industrialization will ensure that Africa’s agro-industrialization efforts will succeed. This is illustrated in Articles 10 & 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which mandates developed countries to support developing countries with appropriate means of implementation to meet their obligations under the deal: capacity building, technology transfer, financing, to enable them sufficiently implement adaptation and mitigation actions. In this case, these could be directed toward tapping into vast renewable energy potential to bridge energy gaps and power agro-industries, and implement large-scale EBA-driven agriculture interventions. For instance, the Paris deal secured commitments by a global alliance to mobilize up to $1 trillion to finance renewable energy development. Within the framework of COP21, with such a paradigm of sustainable agro-industry, Africa can leverage Article 11 to mobilize these finances, including the Green Climate Fund, appropriate technology and capacity building to support exploiting its renewable energy potential to bridge the energy gap and power agro-industries.

Actualizing these efforts will require policy changes and actions on the ground.

 

The innovativeness of EBAFOSA is in its inclusiveness that convenes cross-cutting global, regional and national stakeholders based in a country to foment mutual partnerships that leverage their respective strengths to bridge gaps. These are gaps in policy processes, financing, technology, techniques, skills, markets, commercialization, and continental exchange of best-practice towards a common aim. Policy and ground actions that can actualize sustainable agro-industrialization and are capable of simultaneously satisfying climate obligations are well position to leverage opportunities and provisions under the COP21. Also ensured are socio-economic benefits of food security, contribution to macro-economic growth and creation of income and job opportunities, including high quality industrial based jobs for structural transformation, poverty reduction and inclusive growth

For example; EBAFOSA actions to bridge gaps include:

Policy gaps: Within government, EBAFOSA is bridging policy gaps by breaking inter-ministerial silos through convening requisite ministries of environment, agriculture, industry energy, finance etc., for collaborative, enabling policies for example: agriculture policies to incorporate EBA-based on-farm production techniques of conservation agriculture – agro-forestry, farmer managed natural regeneration, etc., into mainstream agriculture practices to ensure simultaneous actualization of both food security and environmental and climate requirements of reforestation, enhancing carbon sinks, ecosystems preservation and climate adaptation. Targeted clean energy investment in rural areas – decentralized transmission renewable plants to power rural agro-industry. Ensure prioritized investment in rural transport, i.e. feeder roads in farm areas to facilitate efficient linkage of produce to markets, hence commercialization of sustainable agro-industry- trade/industry policies to create special economic zones aimed at attracting investors to set up clean energy based agro-industries in rural areas where farmers are.

Human capacity building gaps: EBAFOSA is targeting peer-to-peer learning among cross-cutting stakeholders across the 35 National branches in Africa by coordinating through the national secretariat, transfer of best-practices and lessons at both strategic policy & operational levels from exemplary EBAFOSA National branches for replication. This enhances skills improvement across the continent, which is a key step in engineering a structural transformation.

Institutional Capacity building: EBAFOSA action is country driven with country institutions and personnel taking the lead in implementation, while EBAFOSA secretariat and partners coordinates sharing and transfer of best practices and provides technical back-stopping. This facilitates institutional capacity building through transfer of globally and continentally sourced best practices & technologies.

Technology gaps: EBAFOSA is targeting south-south partnerships with technology leaders, e.g. Chinese companies on renewable energy, leading private sector in an EBAFOSA country (e.g. Kenya on renewable off-grids), exemplary & accessible innovative resilience EBA technologies in an EBAFOSA country e.g. Zai in Burkina Faso, for transfer to demand areas in all the EBAFOSA national branches.

Conclusion

First, prioritizing EBA-based agro-industrialization seems to be highly catalytic to actualizing sustainable inclusive growth. It promises to ensure Africa simultaneously meets its climate obligations while unlocking socio-economic growth opportunities. This means Africa practically implements high level global and regional climate and sustainable development policy positions and aspirations – the COP21 and Agenda 2030 at global level, and the AU Agenda 2063 at regional level – all which build towards achievement of the SDGs.

Secondly, working through framework initiatives like the EBAFOSA, that convene cross-cutting stakeholders – public/government, private, academia, individual professionals, other development partners for mutual partnerships that leverage their respective relative strengths towards actualizing sustainable agro-industrialization provides a practical means to this end.

Through prioritizing the above, Africa can leverage implementation of the Paris deal for structural transformation and inclusive poverty reducing growth.

Unlocking this potential through enabling policies, investments and ground actions, through inclusive, mutual partnerships involving both state and non-state actors, is the mandate of the Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA).