Friday, August 06, 2010

COMESA appeals for US investment in Africa’s agro market

COMESA appeals for US investment in Africa’s agro market
By Mutale Kapekele
Fri 06 Aug. 2010, 16:20 CAT

COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya has appealed to American investors to consider investing in Africa’s agricultural market which provides a huge opportunity for growth.

In his address to the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum in Washington DC on Thursday, Ngwenya observed that with serious investments in agriculture, Africa had the potential to produce enough food for internal needs and international trade.

“We can produce enough for our needs and for the rest of the world as long as all challenges facing the farmers are dealt with, when farming is considered a business and when farmers get the necessary support from their respective governments and private sector,” Ngwenya said.

Quoting the Mckinsey and Company 2010 report, “Lions on the move”, Ngwenya said in 20 years, Africa’s collective Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be US$2.6 trillion, its consumer spending US$1.4 trillion, the number of Africans of working age would be 1.1 billion, and 50 percent of the population would be living in cities by 2030, showing the huge potential of the continent.

He said regional integration through the tripartite COMESA, East African Community (EAC) and SADC agreement had created a bigger market which should be exploited.

Ngwenya said COMESA was addressing the challenges to agricultural development like infrastructure, technology and market related constraints through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

He said the way forward was to embrace new innovations and technologies that would efficiently support farming practices for higher and better quality yields, citing the continent’s huge irrigation potential.

And Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) chief executive officer Cris Muyunda said Africa was richer than the west imagined and offered many opportunities in commodity trade.

Speaking at the Kansas City agribusiness forum which is part AGOA 2010 Summit, Dr Muyunda who quoted from the Barrons’s business and financial weekly and African Investor, stated that it is time to invest in the “final frontier – Africa” and that “Africa is richer than you think.”

He told the forum that key areas ready for investment included agro-processing, warehousing and various commodities including, roots and tubers, oil seeds, livestock and fisheries, forest and natural products, tree and plantation crops and agriculture inputs.

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