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Vice president Yemi Osinbajo yesterday flagged off the 11th African Economic Conference (AEC) in Abuja.
The leading consensus of the conference centered on the need to scale up the continent’s agricultural transformation to spur industrialization and inclusive growth.
In his address, Osinbajo, highlighted how the Nigerian Government and private sector partners are leveraging resources for agricultural transformation in the midst of the global economic recession, which has resulted in the country losing up to 1 million barrels of crude oil daily.
He expressed the hope that the conference would come up with evidence-based research and knowledge of good practices that can help Nigeria and other African countries to transform their agricultural production for more sustainable growth.
Details obtained from the organizers show that over 300 participants are attending the annual event, co-organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on the theme, “Feed Africa: Towards Agro-Allied Industrialization for Inclusive Growth.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, reminded participants that Nigeria was chosen to host the conference largely because of its enormous potential in agriculture, which, if well harnessed has the potential to become a global powerhouse through agro-industrialization.
He noted that agriculture, which contributes over 28% of the GDP of Africa, holds the key for the accelerated growth, diversification and job creation for African economies.
A ccording to him, “Agriculture provides the basic raw materials needed for industrial development. Food accounts for the highest share of consumer price index and providing cheap food is critical for taming inflation. When inflation is low, interest rates decline and it brings greater private sector investments. A more productive, efficient and competitive agriculture sector is critical for boosting rural economies, where majority of the population live in Africa,” Adesina said. “The future of Africa depends on agriculture.”
Current estimates indicate that 65% of all the uncultivated arable land in the world that can feed 9 billion people by 2050, lies in Africa. At the same time, the continent spends US $35 billion annually importing food. This has huge implications for Africa not only in terms of lost income and rising unemployment. With the food and agribusiness sector projected to grow from US $330 billion to $1 trillion by 2030, the continent simply cannot afford to unlock this hefty opportunity.
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