President Kagame Says Agriculture is Key to Africa’s Transformation

28/05/2013
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President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has identified agriculture as a key sector that can enable Africa’s economic transformation.

“Agriculture remains a crucial cornerstone to Africa’s economic transformation, and there are many examples where it has been pivotal to the realised growth, including among others in Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, and my own country, Rwanda, President Kagame said.

The Rwandan President was speaking at the opening of the African Development Bank’s High Level Seminar of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group in Marrakech on May 28.

However, agriculture must be treated as a business and not just a subsistence activity, in order for sector to become a transformation agent.

Kagame explained that with increased urbanisation, demand for food is expected to double in the next ten years, underscoring to change the situation whereby only 5% of cereals imported by African countries are from the continent.

“A huge market therefore exists. The potential to increase productivity, create more jobs and raise incomes is ever present. But to turn agriculture into a business dictates that we modernise it, invest in technology and research, make reforms in land tenure, land and water management use, and develop transportation infrastructure for greater distribution and trade,” he added.

Focusing on “Africa’s Structural Transformation,” the central theme of the Annual Meetings, the high level seminars bring together, Ministers of Finance, Central Bank Governors as well as public and private sector financial experts to discuss development challenges facing the continent.

The key themes for this year’s discussion include inclusive and green growth, infrastructure, regional integration, governance, private sector, and technology, among others.

President Kagame emphasised the need for development tailored to local needs that have proven that development programs impact positively on poverty reduction.

He also emphasized the need to adopt long-term strategies for industrialisation and manufacturing particularly in areas that will add value to local products, and leverage the continent’s demographic dividend.

“Africa has a very young population, with over two-thirds of the continent under 25 years of age and over 200 million young people aged between 15 and 24 years. In 20 years, Africa’s labour force is projected to be the largest in the world,” President Kagame said.

Speaking earlier, AfDB President Donald Kaberuka explained that the High Level Seminars had over the years grown in significance as the arena for framing the substantive issues for the Annual Meetings of the Bank Group.

President Kaberuka emphasized the need for Africa to consolidate recent achievements, adding that the seminars provide a good opportunity to explore what it will take to consolidate this past decade’s achievements and move forward.

“But we can identify megatrends around which we can build scenarios,” he said.

He cited mega-trends that would impact Africa’s socio-economic landscape fundamentally, andaround which the continent’s transformation agenda can be built.

The six categories include how Africa will fit in the emerging dispersed global economic power, the continent’s democratic dividend, and expansion of African cities, jump-starting technology, mitigating climate change, and vast amounts of natural resources.

The session was attended by eminent persons including former Botswana President, Festus Moghae, Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister, Daniel Kablan Duncan, among others.