Grow Africa
: Fertile grounds for funds
The Africa Report | 9 May 2012

By Gemma Ware
Seven African governments are preparing to present investment blueprints to showcase agriculture projects to investors at a summit organised in May on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa. A year after its launch at last year's WEF Africa, momentum is growing behind the Grow Africa Partnership, a public-private platform designed to attract investments based around governments' own development priorities.

Supported by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the partnership provides technical assistance to Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania. Big private-sector ­players are putting their weight behind the initiative, with Diageo, Equity Bank, Yara International, Unilever and Syngenta all members of its organising task force.


 Largest investment so far in the SAGCOT agricultural corridor

Although still in its early stages, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) – the most developed of the investment blueprints – has begun to attract investors. "The initiative is based on a cluster approach, informed by the knowledge that farmers and agribusinesses are most likely to be successful when they are located in proximity to each other and service providers," explains Jennifer Baarn, deputy chief executive of the SAGCOT Centre.

The centre opened in Dar es Salaam in October 2011 to support the corridor, which is backed by a public-private partnership. 

The biggest investment so far has been the more than $30m invested in rice projects by Kilombero Plantations Limited, a joint venture 91.3% owned by UK-based Agrica and 8.7% owned by the Rufiji Basin Development Authority. "When fully irrigated, the farm will produce 33,000tn of milled rice and 5,000tn of rotation crops – beans and pulses," says Baarn.

Swedish company EcoEnergy expects its 7,800ha sugar operation with 3,000 out-growers on the corridor to be operational by the middle of 2014. SAGCOT will launch a catalytic fund later this year.

After a first event in Tanzania in November 2011, the second Grow Africa Investment Forum will take place on 9 May in Addis. "Our hope is that it will catalyse some direct investments," explains Lisa Dreier, WEF's director of food security and development initiatives. ●

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Source: Africa Report