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Launching of the new edition of Digital Africa, an innovation competition to take up the challenge of digital transition in Africa
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Deadline for startups to submit their projects on DigitalAfrica.AFD.fr is the 22nd of October
PARIS, France, September 20, 2017/ — For the 40th birthday of Proparco, the subsidiary of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) (www.AFD.fr) focused on private sector, AFD, Bpifrance (www.Bpifrance.fr) and the La French Tech (www.LaFrenchTech.com) have launched on 19 September the second edition of Digital Africa, a startup competition and digital innovation to support sustainable development in Africa. The first edition of the Digital Africa challenge, launched in October 2016, received more than 500 applications and rewarded 10 start-ups which convinced the judging panel on the potential impact of their innovation. Building on this success, AFD, Bpifrance and La French Tech have decided to renew the experience with the objective of offering a long-term support to the emergence of mature and solid digital ecosystems, catalysers of new economic opportunities.

Digital technology, a great accelerator of Africa’s development 

Digital revolution is transforming the African continent. It’s an innovative catalyst that revolutionizes economies and societies. Ecology, energy, culture, education, artistic creation, governance, and media: digital technology has a transversal and multiplying impact in all those key sectors.

“Digital innovation is abundant in Africa. Africans are making a technological leap that accelerates the emergence of the continent. Through Digital Africa, AFD supports emblematic start-ups of the digital African ecosystems, and fulfils its mission of development in the service of education and innovation, in the digital age. Development is now moving in both directions, between the two shores of the Mediterranean” – Rémy Rioux, AFD Executive Director.

Nicolas Dufourcq, Bpifrance Executive Director claims “We are proud to participate in the Digital Africa challenge and to support 5 French start-ups in their development on the African continent which nowadays offers great opportunities. This challenge represents a straight continuation of our action for the internalization of enterprises and their cooperation with the African continent”.

Innovation in Africa is showing extraordinary development, ecosystems are being structured, and start-ups are spreading across the continent. By promoting the links between French and African entrepreneurs today, our ecosystems are building a common future. Digital Africa is for French Tech an additional step to bring this ambition with Africa”, David Monteau, La French Tech Director, Ministry of Economy and Finance.

A fully customized program 

All the startup winners of this second edition of the Digital Africa challenge will benefit from a high visibility and access an international network of partners, clients and investors. They will be part of a community that gathers the best talents of digital innovation in Africa and for Africa, in order to share experiences and good practices.

The 5 African winning startups will be accompanied by the AFD through an “acceleration pack”, a customizable, technical and financial support up to a 30.000 euros value.

The 5 French winning startups will be accompanied by Bpifrance up to a 10.000 euros value support pack to strengthen their expertise and develop new opportunities on the African continent: Bpifrance Université training, networking and discovery trip to Abidjan and Cape Town with the French entrepreneurs community in the French Tech Hubs.

“For a young startup, Digital Africa offers a great opportunity to gain a continental and international visibility.” – Dieu-Donné Okalas Ossami, E-Tumba, winning startup of the first edition of Digital Africa.

What are the selection criteria? 

For the second edition of Digital Africa, startups are invited to propose innovative projects linked to the following themes:

  • Territory (urban challenge, rural transformation, and Smart City etc.)
  • Citizenship (e-government, civic engagement, activism, and alternative media etc.)
  • Knowledge and creativity (education, formation, creative and cultural industries etc.)
  • Environment and climate (green tech, clean tech, sustainable transportations, blue economy, and renewable energies etc.)

The relevance of the solutions proposed, their feasibility, sustainability and potential impact will be key criteria in the selection process divided in several steps:

  • An extensive analysis of the projects, of their innovative nature and of their business model;
  • A review of the pre-selected projects by AFD and Bpifrance experts;
  • A final selection by a jury composed by experts of the technological and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa.

Jury:

  • Pauline Mujawamariya, Director of the Innovation Prize for Africa – African Innovation Foundation;
  • Tidjane Deme, General Partner of Partech Venture;
  • Emeka Okofore, TED Global, for Africa;
  • Aissatou Sow, Director of Development in Africa, Intel Corporation;
  • Erick Young, CEO Greentec Capital Partners.

Agence Française de Développement (www.AFD.fr), a public financial institution that implements the policy defined by the French Government, has been working for more than seventy-five years to combat poverty and promote sustainable development.
AFD operates on four continents via a network of 75 offices and finances and supports projects that improve living conditions for populations, boost a sustainable and inclusive economic growth, protect the planet and participate in the stabilization of fragile states and post-conflict situations.
In order to include the new digital concerns for development in its opportunities as well as in its challenges, AFD has set as a main objective to accompany the transformation of African economies and the promotion of human development through the stimulation of digital innovation.

Bpifrance (www.Bpifrance.com) finances businesses from the seed phase to transfer to stock exchange listing, through loans, guarantees and equity. Bpifrance accompanies firms in their innovation projects on an international scale and in their export activities through a wide range of products. The support offered to entrepreneurs also includes consultancy, university, networking opportunities and accelerating programme for startups, SME and middle-market companies.
Thanks to Bpifrance and its 48 regional branches, entrepreneurs benefit from a close, unique and efficient support to accompany them to overcome challenges.
La French Tech (www.LaFrenchTech.com) is the collective name for all those working in the French startup market. It is also an innovative public initiative in the service of this collective. For some years now, French Tech have as a group shown incredible dynamism, driven by a new generation of entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, designers, and other talented people. The French Tech mission is the team that coordinates within the Ministry of Economy and Finance the deployment of the actions of the French Tech initiative launched in November 2013 by the government and structured around 3 axes: federating the ecosystem of startups French, accelerate the growth of startups and spread French Tech internationally. The founding partners of the Initiative are: General Direction of Enterprises, General Direction of the Treasury, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Caisse des Dépôts, Bpifrance, Business France, Commissariat Général pour l’Investissement.

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African Women in Agriculture The Marrakech Declaration
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
The city of Marrakech hosted on 11 – 12 and 13 September 2017 an important international Congress on the subject “African Women in Agriculture” (AWA).
This unprecedented meeting is organized by the American Association Believe in Africa in collaboration with the PRESMA Agency.
Some 200 participants from 17 African countries and the USA took part in the meeting for three days. Mrs Angelle KWEMO President and Founder of this important initiative, at the opening stated that “in terms of agricultural production in Africa, women do not hold the key but they are the solution to the continent’s food challenge. It is through women that the continent will achieve not only its food self-sufficiency but above all its “food sovereignty”.
Mrs Mbarka Bouaida, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Agriculture in charge of Maritime Fisheries, highlighted the role of women in agriculture in Africa and explained the situation in Morocco.
Mr. Abdelfateh Bjioui, Wali of the Marrakech-Safi region, who gave the participants a warm welcome, congratulated the participants on the choice of Morocco and recalled the ambitious policy of His Majesty King Mohammed VI that God help him develop partnership between countries of the African continent.
Mr. Aziz Mekouar, former Ambassador of Morocco to the USA, explained the importance of the effective involvement of women in the light of the climate change of the planet.
The opening ceremony ended by the keynote address delivered by His Excellency Mr. John Dramani Mahama, former President of Ghana and a great friend of Morocco who recognized that “in Africa, no other sector of the economy has such a large participation of women than of agriculture. “
Work continued over two days and resulted in important resolutions. “All are committed to see the role of African women in agriculture recognized, with the establishment of the” African Prize for the Media in Agriculture and Sustainable Development “to encourage the media to improve the image of African women in agriculture, “says Fawzia TALOUT MEKNASSI, one of the partners of the event.
The words of the end of this agricultural congress was delivered to Mrs. Angelle KWEMO, who said that “it is time for Africa to produce the leadership that will enable the continent not only to achieve food security,  but also enhancing women actions, as pillar of this food security’.
The event was supported by OCP SA. Thus, during the plenary session titled “women central point of the green revolution”, Mrs. Imane Belghiti explained the concrete actions carried out by the OCP in Morocco as in the rest of the African continent.
The Social Development Agency represented by its dynamic Director GeneralM. Yassine HAMZA, shared with the other international agencies its expertise in supporting women’s agricultural cooperatives.
The event was also supported by international bodies such as UNO Women and the US Africa Development Foundation which not only supported rural women’s agricultural associations but also facilitated the participation of many women from the continent including leaders such as Korka Diaw, Korka Rice of Senegal and Mrs. Sirebara Foumata Diallo, President of the Union of Women Cooperatives in Agriculture of Mali. Appointment is therefore given in May 2018, for the second edition of “African Women in Agriculture”. Read the AWA Marrakech Full Declaration
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The G5 Sahel Force: Burkina Faso in the fight against terrorism
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
His Excellency, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso

His Excellency, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso

In New York for the 72nd Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the President of Burkina Faso, His Excellency Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, participated in a high-level G5 Sahel meeting on Monday 18 September.

The objective of the meeting was to make the international community aware of the urgent need to support the joint anti-terrorist force which will begin operations in October, despite having received just a quarter of its budget. In addition to the funding issue, discussions focused on the relationship between the G5 Force and the UN forces.

The summit brought together the presidents of the five Sahel bloc countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad), French President Emmanuel Macron, African Union President Alpha Condé, President of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, the head of European Diplomacy Federica Mogherini and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. As a sign of growing US interest in the issue, a Homeland Security advisor was also present at the meeting. Burkina Faso, which has suffered several jihadist attacks, the first in January 2016 and the latest in July 2017, is tackling the problem head on. Among the measures taken by President Kaboré, who is calling for “a merciless fight against this global scourge”, and his Government are: the setting up of a full Department of Homeland Security and the appointment of a Minister of Defense, the redeployment of the security and defense forces (SDFs) in the north, equipping the SDF, strengthening international cooperation and joint operations with Mali (and with the French Barkhane force in particular).

Roch Marc Christian Kaboré will speak at the United Nations Forum on Thursday, 21 September. He will especially advocate for “a true people’s UN”. For the President of Burkina Faso, the changes of the world and the duty of justice for Africa demand a reform of the United Nations, notably within the Security Council. He will thus call on his counterparts to “build a more modern, stronger and more effective United Nations”. On the sidelines of the general debate, the President of Burkina Faso will take part in numerous panels and will meet with high-level personalities including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He will attend a High-Level Meeting on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, the Summit for a Global Pact for the Environment, and an African Union (AU) demonstration on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend.

Burkina Faso strengthens economic ties with the US
As part of “Burkina Day”, President Kaboré chaired a roundtable organized by the Atlantic Council and the US Chamber of Commerce on September 18 on Ways and Means of Contributing to the Strengthening of Economic Relations between the United States of America and Burkina Faso. This was an opportunity for the Head of State to present to American businessmen the investment opportunities, the promising sectors and the reforms undertaken by the government to create an attractive business climate and to propose “the organization of a forum for US investors in Burkina Faso in 2018” and a “meeting on democracy and good governance”.

Roch Marc Christian Kaboré thanked the US government for renewing its confidence through the Second Compact of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and explained to investors how the government of Burkina Faso has simplified and made transparent the procedures for the implementation of public-private partnership (PPP) projects. The following day, the President of Burkina Faso, the Prime Minister of Canada, the French President and the US Vice President attended a dinner hosted by the Atlantic Council.

National Plan for Economic and Social Development (PNDES): Focus on investment opportunities.
While at the UN, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré will present his vision on development policy in Burkina Faso and highlight the progress made by his country. Burkina Faso has embarked on an ambitious structural transformation project aimed at improving the living conditions of Burkina Faso through strong, inclusive and sustainable growth. The goal of the National Plan for Economic and Social Development (PNDES) by 2020 is to achieve an average growth rate of 7.7% and create 50,000 jobs per year. Developed through a participatory and inclusive process, the PNDES is based on three strategic pillars: “reforming institutions and modernizing the administration”, “developing human capital” and “Boosting sectors with strong economic and employment growth and job potential”.

At a meeting in Paris in December 2016, multilateral financial institutions, donor countries and private investors committed to mobilizing 28 billion Euros by 2020 to finance the PNDES.

Burkina Faso has thus undertaken major institutional and legislative reforms aimed at attracting, facilitating and securing investments to revive the economy. The desire to strengthen participatory democracy by placing citizens at the heart of the functioning of the State led the country to join the “Open Government Partnership” in 2016. The first National Action Plan is being drawn up with the participation of non-state stakeholders, civil society organizations and the media. Lastly, a preliminary draft constitution will soon be submitted to a referendum.

Located in the heart of West Africa, Burkina Faso is a “crossroads country”. Member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), of which Ouagadougou is the headquarters, Burkina Faso shares its borders with Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Just a one and a half hour flight from the neighboring capitals, it offers an ideal regional base for traveling in the region and is a strategic transit point for inter-country trade. As a country of dialogue, Burkina Faso is also well integrated in world diplomacy. The population of Burkina Faso is estimated at about 19 million people, 59% of whom are under 20 years of age.
After the popular uprising of 30 and 31 October 2014, Burkina Faso returned to democracy and organized the first free elections in its history. Elected on 29 November, 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré became the first civilian to democratically gain power since the country’s Independence.
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Activists in Dakar Demand End to Colonial-era Currency
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Sofia Christensen*

FILE - CFA franc banknotes by the Central Bank of West African States are seen in N'djamena, Chad, April 9, 2016.

FILE – CFA franc banknotes by the Central Bank of West African States are seen in N’djamena, Chad, April 9, 2016.

Protesters gathered in several West African capitals Saturday to demand their countries abandon the CFA franc in favor of a common African currency. Passions over the issue have been reignited since Senegal arrested and expelled an activist for burning a CFA bill at a rally last month.

The PanAfrican Emergencies group called for the protest. Senegal recently expelled the movement’s founder, French-Beninese activist Kemi Seba, after he burned a 5,000 CFA note during a rally in Dakar in August.

France created the CFA in the 1940s for its African colonies. The CFA is pegged to the euro and guaranteed by national currency reserves deposited with the French treasury. Senegal is one of 14 countries in West and Central Africa’s two monetary unions still using the CFA.

At Dakar’s bustling Marche Tilene, many traders are interested in the debate, though the arguments remain more emotional than economic.

“It is not an African currency, so we consider it a Nazi currency imposed by our colonizer,” said trader Adama Badiane.

Shop owner Mariama Seydi also favors a new currency.

“I would like Senegal to have its own currency,” she said. “In the same way as we used to talk about the French franc, I would like us to say the Senegalese franc.”

Moudou Gaye, the head of Marche Tilene, agrees.

“We are Africans. We need to get organized and mobilized for a single currency,” Gaye said.

Advocates of the CFA say it has prevented inflation and instability. They point to the experiences of neighbors like Guinea and Nigeria as cautionary tales of going it alone. But critics argue the currency is too strong and stifles economic growth. Regional trade has expanded outside the eurozone to partners like China and the United States.

“When you have a currency fixed to a strong currency like the euro, it is easy to import. But when you want to export, your products cannot compete with other foreign countries,” said Ndongo Samab Sylla, an economist at Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Countries using the CFA are free to abandon it, but none of the 14 governments has announced any such intention. And for onlookers at this latest anti-CFA protest, this may be for the best.

“I do not blame them. Everyone has their way of thinking. But we will go nowhere if Senegal creates its own currency and leaves the CFA,” said Ahmadou Bamba Badiane, while watching the protest.

For now, the debate continues. But in the past year, the presidents of Senegal and Ivory Coast have publicly reaffirmed their support for the CFA, making it unlikely it will disappear any time soon.

*VOA

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Several billions of US dollars in investments announced during the Morocco – Gabon 2017 Forum
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Two delegations of Moroccan businessmen are expected in Gabon within the next few weeks
From left to right, Loggin Warren KAMBOGO, General Manager of the Agricultural Agroindustrial and Agricultural Products Development and Production Company in Gabon (SOVAPROAT) and Hamid RAJI, CEO of the Moroccan company of Teas and Infusions (MATHE), the signing of the partnership agreement on the recovery and processing of lemongrass

From left to right, Loggin Warren KAMBOGO, General Manager of the Agricultural Agroindustrial and Agricultural Products Development and Production Company in Gabon (SOVAPROAT) and Hamid RAJI, CEO of the Moroccan company of Teas and Infusions (MATHE), the signing of the partnership agreement on the recovery and processing of lemongrass

RABAT, Morocco, September 19, 2017/ — The Morocco – Gabon Forum which has just ended in Rabat was the occasion for the Moroccan companies and investors to announce their intention to invest several billions of US dollars in Gabon in the sectors of Infrastructures, the numerical Economy, Agro-industrial industry and the sanitary facilities, in particular.

Bringing together nearly 300 participants in the buildings of the chancellery of the Embassy of Gabon, in Rabat and intended to promote the direct investments and to instigate the exchanges between the two countries, the Morocco – Gabon Forum made it possible to the Moroccan investors to discover the opportunities offered by Gabon.

According to the president of the Africa and South-South Commission of the General Confederation of the Moroccan Companies (CGEM), Abdou Souléye DIOP, “The Forum will have made it possible to better identify the Gabonese projects and the tools to accompany their execution. The General Confederation of the Moroccan Companies all is prepared to accompany and to structure the actions of development and B2B between the Moroccan and Gabonese companies and to impulse this new momentum of economic relations between Morocco and Gabon.”

Two delegations of Moroccan businessmen are awaited in Gabon within the next few weeks to carry on with the exchanges initiated with the Gabonese authorities during the Morocco – Gabon 2017 Forum.

These delegations, which will go to Libreville in October and November 2017, shall be made up of economic operators originating from the Area of Fes and the Eastern one, as well as businessmen affiliated to the Chamber of Commerce from the Area of Rabat-Sale-Kenitra.

“The Morocco – Gabon Forum arouses an increasing interest and represents from now on an essential tool of dynamization of the exchanges between Morocco and Gabon. I wish that the Forum contributes to a deep and immediate reflexion on the existence, the nature and the quality of the trade agreements which bind our two countries and which would, ideally, count several agreements of free trade between Morocco and Gabon. I am convinced that the multiplication of the agreements of free trade will allow Africa to be developed by the Africans themselves”, declared the Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary – High Representative of the Gabonese Republic close the Kingdom of Morocco, His Excellence Abdu Razzaq Guy KAMBOGO.

The offer presented by the Gabonese Funds of Strategic Investments (FGIS) and relating to the Seafront Triumphal Field (FMCT) aroused a broad interest and immediately received an important financing offer.

A Partnership convention on the valorization and the transformation of the lemongrass (citronella), on the other hand, was signed on Friday 15th of September 2017 between the Moroccan company of Teas and Infusions (MATHE) and the Gabonese company SOVAPROAT, Company of Valorization and Production of the Agricultural and Agro industrials products and of the Gabonese Soil.

A follow-up Committee was recommended in order to evaluate the contribution of the Morocco – Gabon 2017 Forum to the diversification of the direct investments in Gabon and the dynamization of the exchanges between Rabat and Libreville.

The next edition of the Morocco Forum – Gabon will be held in September 2018 in Rabat.

“The relations between Morocco and Gabon are on the way to become a model of cooperation South-South”, declared the Ambassador of Gabon in Morocco, His Excellence Abdu Razzaq Guy KAMBOGO.

Country undergoing fundamental changes, Gabon wish to invest 21 Billions of Dollars throughout the forcoming years in order to strengthen the infrastructures and support the growth poles beyond the oil exploitation.

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Ambitious Road map in the works after Marrakech African Women in Agriculture (AWA)” Conference
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

African Women in Agriculture

“AWA”

Marrakech September 13, 2017

Radisson Blu Hotel

The Marrakech Declaration

 

Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa with the Wali of Marrakech during the Conference

Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa with the Wali of Marrakech during the Conference

We, the women attending the ”Believe in Africa – African Women in Agriculture (AWA)” Conference held in Marrakech on 11-13th September 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

We express our deep gratitude to His Royal Majesty, King Mohammed VI for his strong leadership in advancing the African continent’s economic development and his special attention to women.

We hereby make this declaration:

We thank Madam Mbarka Bouaida, Secrétaire d’Etat au près du Ministre de l’Agriculture Chargé de la Pêche Maritime for her leadership and commitment to women empowerment;

We thank H.E. John Dramani Mahama, Former President of The Republic of Ghana for his encouragement and unwavering support to women empowerment and specifically in the agricultural sector;

We express to the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development our willingness to strengthen our collaboration;

We thank M. Abdelfateh Bjioui, WALI of Marrakech region – Safi for his hospitality and support;

We thank the leadership of Office Chérifien des phosphates Group (OCP Group) For their support to women empowerment in the agricultural sector;

We thank the Moroccan Agency for Social Development for their support to women specifically for revenues generating activities

We thank UN Women and US Africa Development Foundation for their support women particularly in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali;

After two days of deliberations resolved as follows:

 

  • To establish an “Believe in Africa” Chapter in Africa;
  • To create “African Women in Agriculture” initiatives (AWA).
  • To institutionalize the annual “Believe in Africa African Women in Agriculture congress;
  • Urge all stakeholders to:
    • Create The “African Award for Media in Agriculture and Sustainable Development” to encourage media to promote African women in Agriculture image;
    • Establish an “African Traditional Rulers Award” to encourage African traditional rulers to supporting women access to land;
    • Establish an ”International Day of African

Women in Agriculture” with the aim of:

  • Highlighting and increasing visibility of women’s role in agriculture and sustainable development
  • Rebranding the image of women in agriculture;
    • Launch the “One Roof = One Garden” initiative to promote food self sufficiency, to enhance youth and women job creation in urban areas and promote urban agriculture;
    • Find creative ways to raise and mobilize funding to support African women in agriculture’ access to credit, finance services and business development services.
    • Enhance competitiveness for African women in agriculture by guiding on ways to promote value added products, facilitating market access through proper labeling, safety, marketing and branding;
    • Provide guidance to women on ways to improve safety and quality assurance measures with a view to gaining access to global markets;
    • Advocate and search for an organization that will lead and support an African Certification and labeling structure, internationally recognized.
    • Invest in capacity building programs for women along the entire agricultural value chain;
    • Advise women on ways to have access to land ownership.
    • Increase the use of mechanization and appropriate biotechnology for women in agriculture;
    • Support women to access up to date information on agribusiness, technology and international best practices;
    • Extend all agricultural incentives to women in Art and Handicraft.

 

Signed by Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President Believe in Africa

Approved by women attending African Women in Agriculture conference representing different nationalities (Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Chad, Guinea Bisau, Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde)

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Official launch of NEPAD’s 5% Agenda initiative for infrastructure financing in Africa
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Bridging Africa’s $68bn infrastructure finance gap
 Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 18, 2017/ — The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (www.NEPAD.org) – African Union’s economic development programme gathered international investors and CEO-level business leaders at the NASDAQ Stock Market today, 18th September, for the launch of its 5% Agenda campaign.

The launch took place five years after a January 2012 African Union Summit adopted the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) which sets out 51 cross-border infrastructure programmes and more than 400 actionable projects in four sectors.

According to the World Bank, the continent needs to spend $93 billion annually (44% for energy; 23% for water and sanitation; 20% for transport; 10% for ICTs; and 3% for irrigation) until 2020 to bridge its infrastructure gap, which is currently removing an estimated 2% of GDP growth every year. On the other hand, Africa only managed to close 158 project finance deals with debt totalling $59 billion over the decade 2004-2013, which represents only 5 percent of infrastructure investment needs and 12 percent of the actual financial flows.[1]

The 5% Agenda campaign highlights that only a collaborative public-private approach can efficiently tackle these issues and calls for allocations of institutional investors to African infrastructure to be increased to the declared 5% mark.

Speaking at the launch event in New York, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Infrastructure plays a leading role in supporting growth on the continent. At the same time, it can represent an innovative and attractive asset class for institutional investors with long-term liabilities. By launching the 5% campaign in New York today, we invite investors to take advantage of the wide-ranging opportunities Africa has to offer and to move forward with what can only be a win-win partnership”.

The launch of the campaign gathered high-level international investors and business leaders, including members of the PIDA Continental Business Network (CBN) which is spearheaded by NEPAD and constitutes a CEO-level private sector infrastructure leaders dialogue platform on PIDA.

Tony O. Elumelu, one of Africa’s most prominent entrepreneurs and active participant in the CBN said: “Africa is getting stronger every day with new business opportunities and innovative ideas but what is still crucially missing is project implementation. A coherent and coordinated approach is needed to mobilize institutional investors while limiting their risk exposure. African governments need to work on creating conducive environments to attract these investments which are so vital for the continent’s growth and development.”

According to a 2016 McKinsey report, institutional investors and banks have $120 trillion in assets that could partially support infrastructure projects.[2]

Now more than ever, Africa needs to tap into this available. As banks face additional regulatory challenges and as governments have limited fiscal space, it is becoming increasingly urgent to unlock additional flows from long-term institutional investors such as insurers, pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds.

For pension and sovereign wealth funds to be able to invest in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa, a variety of issues need to be addressed to strategically and intentionally facilitate long-term allocations. Chief amongst these matters is the need to reform national and regional regulatory frameworks that guide institutional investment in Africa. Likewise, new capital market products need to be developed that can effectively de-risk credit and hence, allow these African asset owners to allocate finance to African infrastructure as an investable asset class to their portfolio.

All these issues are at the heart of the 5% Agenda roadmap, which is the backbone of NEPAD’s campaign and is foreseen to have the following impact:

  1. Unlocking notable and measurable pools of needed capital to implement regional and domestic infrastructure projects on the continent.
  2. Broadening and deepening the currently very shallow African capital markets, whilst at the same time contributing significantly to regional integration and job creation.
  3. Promoting the development of innovative capital market products that are specific to the continent’s challenges and potential in regards to infrastructure development.
  4. Raising the investment interest of other institutional and non-institutional financiers that so far have been hesitant to include African infrastructure projects as an asset to their investment portfolio based on specific, concrete next steps and project suggestions.
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With new Managing Director, Ghana’s MEST scales as Pan-African incubator
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jake Bright*

The MEST incubator has appointed Aaron Fu as its new Managing Director. This comes as the Accra based innovation hub scales up its presence across Africa.

Founded in 2008, MEST operates as a training program and seed fund for African innovators to build successful commercial tech companies.

Fu takes the helm after two years as Managing Partner at early stage VC firm Nest. He also co-founded Metta Kenya, a Nest backed space in Nairobi for tech entrepreneurs and investors. Interim MEST MD Katie Sarro will shift to Head of Partnerships and Fundraising.

Fu plans to focus on the incubator’s continued expansion. “A very big part of that is figuring out what elements we’ve rolled out in Accra that will scale to the rest of the market,” he told TechCrunch. “As the organization transitions to becoming a multi-country entity, there’s going to be some organizational changes…to make sure MEST’s impact also scales.”

The incubator currently has offices or on ground presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. It actively recruits in those countries and Cote d’Ivoire. MEST is in the process of opening physical incubator spaces in multiple countries.

“We want to connect our…startups to markets, resources customers, and teams from all across Africa to make their dream of building truly pan African companies a reality,” said Fu.

MEST’s expansion comes as Africa has seen its innovation spaces grow from a handful, less than a decade ago, to over 300, by a recent GSMA tally. Many of those hubs have been shifting away from singular market focus and an over reliance on grant funding toward broader reach and more revenue from investment related activities. This year Kenya’s iHub launched its own startup fund. Nigeria’s CCHub recently launched its Diaspora Challenge to tap talent and investment outside the country.

Funded primarily by Jorn Lyseggen’s Meltwater Foundation, MEST is also transitioning toward more investment activities. Its seed fund has supported several companies that went on to raise outside capital and two―Claimsyncand messaging app Saya―have been acquired. MEST’s new MD confirmed the incubator plans to launch a VC firm in the near future, though could not provide an exact timeline.

Fu sees a broader benefit to Africa’s tech sector from MEST’s expansion. “We’d like to connect all these smaller, vibrant ecosystems across the continent to present one unified ecosystem,” he said.

And on MEST’s commitment to commercial startups. “We definitely believe in building businesses not apps,” Fu said. “By doing that you create the hero figures to inspire the next generation. That inspires capital to be unlocked across the world to invest in African tech.”

 *Tech Crunch/Yahoo

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Tony Elumelu: why Africapitalists will build a continent’s future
September 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Tony O. Elumelu*

Tony O. Elumelu

Tony O. Elumelu

Africa is not a single country but a continent, one that is a place of real business opportunity that the world should be alive to. I know, having built businesses that now operate in 20 African countries and through creating a programme over 10 years that is funding and mentoring 10,000 African entrepreneurs.

I have witnessed first hand the infectious enthusiasm of African entrepreneurs, and my businesses demonstrate the potential of Africa if you invest for the long term and act strategically. In 1997, I had a vision of democratising African banking, seeing financial services not only as a vehicle for financial inclusion, but as a critical enabler of cross-border trade and value creation on the African continent.

Diverging fortunes

Since the end of the commodity supercycle, growth paths in Africa have diverged. Oil-exporting countries, such as Algeria and Angola, and non-energy mineral exporters, including Botswana and Zambia, have experienced substantially weakened growth. Economic giants Nigeria and South Africa have entered recession. However, economies not based on commodities have continued to demonstrate robust expansion. Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania enjoy gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates of 6% and above.

This diversity teaches us the important lesson that Africa should not be treated as a single economic unit and also shows how governments must create the enabling environment that will allow the private sector to act as the engine of economic and social growth.

The economic progress of the latter countries is unsurprising. Their growth is a result of patient investment in infrastructure to grow the real sector of the economy, and a sustained focus on institutionalising that enabling environment – with business incentives, transparency, safety and policy stability – to allow the private sector to flourish. These factors foster the growth of local value creation, which resolves Africa’s historical over-reliance on raw material and commodity exports that leave their economies susceptible to cyclical boom and bust.

In 2015, Ethiopia launched a light rail project in Addis Ababa, the first metro service in sub-Saharan Africa. As it is now building a $5bn Grand Renaissance dam with a generation capacity of 6000 megawatts and a projected $1bn in revenues from electricity sales, the World Bank recently named it as the world’s fastest growing country. Ethiopia’s big investments in infrastructure have resulted in pay-offs, including double-digit economic growth (averaging 10.8% since 2005).

Tanzania has also made significant investments in infrastructure – particularly in power – strengthening its manufacturing and construction sectors. Construction alone accounted for 13.6% of GDP in 2015, further fuelled by investments in transport and port developments.

The diversity of economic outcomes on the continent illustrates my belief that three interdependent ‘pillars’ for economic and job growth are required: policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law; investment in infrastructure; and a commitment to developing Africa’s manufacturing and processing industries. All three pillars reinforce each other, help to unleash the African private sector and increase both foreign and local investment.

Private sector importance

I firmly believe that only a developed and well-capacitated private sector can unlock economic prosperity and widespread opportunity in Africa. To advance bottom-up economic development, and create jobs and employment for Africa’s exploding population, the private sector must flourish, with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). After all, governments and corporates alone cannot create the millions of jobs that the continent desperately needs; only small businesses can.

The best-performing countries on the continent are those that have keenly supported entrepreneurship and enhanced the business climate. The Rwanda Development Board, created to boost entrepreneurship and grow the private sector, has been effective in increasing investor interest in the country. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report now ranks Rwanda second in Africa, as a result of its reforms that have reduced administrative and operating costs for all businesses via streamlined licensing and permitting processes; reduced tariffs; and ease in registering a new business, accessing credit and paying taxes.

In Côte d’Ivoire, improvements to the business environment continue to attract investment. For example, a reduction in government bureaucracy now allows new businesses to be registered within 24 hours. Tax waivers, exemptions and a 40% cut in custom duties have spurred new investments. The Mauritian government has launched an ambitious SME scheme backed by a bank focused on SMEs with a capitalisation of Rs10bn ($751.6m) over the next five years. The goal is to become a “nation of entrepreneurs”.

It is encouraging to see Africa’s public sector recognise that Africa’s future will be determined not simply by economic growth, but by how successful we are in creating accessible pathways to economic prosperity for all Africans everywhere. It is in those communities where opportunities are the most scarce that social issues are most prevalent. Given the recent commodity crash and subsequent shortfalls in government budgets across the continent, these massive investments in infrastructure and structures to support entrepreneurs may be unfeasible. This calls for a new approach to development assistance.

Partners for the long term

Development partners must be willing to: work side by side with African countries to invest for the long term in critical sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and processing; lend technical support in policy conceptualisation; and finance infrastructure projects such as ports and roads – efforts that will create broad-based prosperity. Assistance in this manner will radically transform the economy and launch it on the path of sustainable development.

In mid-June, German chancellor Angela Merkel met African leaders ahead of the July G20 summit to discuss the ‘Compact with Africa’, an initiative to boost private investment in Africa, improve infrastructure and tackle unemployment. Emphasising the importance of this different style of partnership, Ms Merkel said: “Positive development in the world will not work unless all continents participate. We need an initiative that does not talk about Africa, but with Africa.” This has been backed up by €300m agreement with Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the recently announced Marshall plan.

Germany’s Marshall plan for Africa seeks to support the continent in areas of economic activity, trade and development; peace and security; and democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It is hoped that the plan will accelerate the growth of the African private sector – including entrepreneurs – to make companies more competitive, and to enhance their ability to scale and create formal wage-earning jobs. It also strives to bridge Africa’s $93bn-a-year infrastructure deficit, the major roadblock in its path to prosperity.

I support this reimagined and innovative approach to development. I applaud the well-meaning plans to forge stronger trading ties and cross-border commercial relationships, to support African entrepreneurs, to commit to more technical and knowledge support programmes. Above all, I commend this recognition – though belated – of Africans as befitting partners, capable of working alongside Western governments and corporates to generate new wealth opportunities on the continent.

For me, this goes beyond mere talk. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m to support African entrepreneurs, based on our belief in their potential and capacity to develop homegrown solutions to solve the continent’s seemingly intractable economic problems.

My passion for entrepreneurship is rooted in the economic philosophy of ‘Africapitalism’, a term that I coined to emphasise the role Africa’s private sector must play in the socioeconomic transformation of our continent. Africapitalism calls on the private sector – including African entrepreneurs – to make long-term investments in strategic sectors to create both economic profit and social prosperity.

To empower African entrepreneurs to take on this responsibility to transform Africa, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m over the next 10 years to funding, mentoring and training 10,000 entrepreneurs whose businesses will create 1 million jobs and generate $10bn dollars in revenue.

An alternative capitalism

At the heart of Africapitalism is the recognition that the private sector is the main driver of growth in any economy. This confers on businesses a critical responsibility and a commitment to prioritise not economic profits alone but social wealth and broad-based prosperity. Africapitalism advocates the need to enable the private sector to take on a more active role in addressing economic imbalances in society. It improves upon the traditional model of capitalism that centres on extractive short-term gains and instead promotes a refined approach that invests for the long term in strategic sectors for both economic and social wealth.

Africapitalism puts people first and identifies entrepreneurship as the solution to Africa’s biggest threats: unemployment and lack of economic hope. Africapitalism advocates for the empowerment of entrepreneurs to enhance job creation. Only small businesses – not governments, not corporates – can create the millions of jobs needed to leverage our youth demographic dividend to guarantee an economic transformation.

The significant political and economic changes today – the backlash against globalisation, anxiety over lost jobs, political upheavals, deepening inequality – reinforce the urgency around rethinking capitalism as historically practised. Africapitalism offers a compelling alternative to modern-day capitalism, and when embraced will douse societal tensions, create new social wealth, inspire renewed public confidence in business, and make our world much fairer. Businesses will be the better for it as bottom lines benefit when there is peace, stability and prosperity.

It is true that Africa needs partners, but more critically, we need Africapitalist partners.

*This article was originally published on The Banker.Tony Elumelu is Chairman at Heirs Holdings.

 

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THE U.S. AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INVESTS IN 35 YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON, DC – September 6, 2017– The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is pleased to announce $375,000 in seed capital funding to 35 young African social entrepreneurs for social and community change in 20 sub-Saharan countries in Africa.

Winners were selected from the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship program, as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). By pairing seed capital with technical assistance, USADF is empowering young entrepreneurs who are leading the charge in investing in Africa’s economic growth. Each entrepreneur will receive up to $25,000 in start-up capital to strengthen systems that will support the growth of their enterprises – ranging from agribusiness and healthcare services, to renewable energy, waste management and technology. C.D. Glin, President & CEO of USADF says, “These young people represent the best and brightest of Africa’s future business leaders and social entrepreneurs.”

With USADF seed capital and technical assistance, these social entrepreneurs are creating jobs, training and employing other youth, and creating or expanding markets by providing goods and services. They are also working to find new and innovative ways to improve their communities and create economic growth opportunities.

Delia Diabangouaya, CEO of Chocotogo, says, “I am building my business to produce top-quality chocolate and support smallholder cocoa farmers. With this grant, I am hoping to have a lasting impact in my community.” Chocotogo is an artisan chocolate company based in Togo that sources cocoa from rural farmers. With USADF funding, Delia aims to transform the cocoa value chain to benefit over 100 local smallholder farmers and produce high-quality, artisan chocolates.

Entrepreneurs like Chioma Ukonu are finding new ways to manage waste and protect the environment in busy cities like Lagos, Nigeria. Ukonu’s enterprise, Recycle Points, uses a points-based incentive model to encourage recycling in Lagos. Her business hires youth to collect waste door-to-door from subscribers, who in turn receive points redeemable for household items and cash. Ukonu says, “I wanted to find a way to incentivize people to recycle, while also starting my own business. USADF believes in empowering local entrepreneurs to find solutions affecting their communities.”

As Mandela Washington Fellows, these young entrepreneurs have all demonstrated leadership in business, the ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups, and are strong communicators actively engaged in making a difference. They are the future leaders committed to catalyzing change in their communities, countries, and Africa’s growth. USADF’s goal is to catalyze young Africans ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to launch and expand their social enterprises so every African may be a part of Africa’s growth story. Since 2014, USADF has awarded over $3M to over 150 young entrepreneurs in over 30 countries.

 

About USADF

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to support and invest in African owned and led enterprises which improve lives and livelihoods in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. For more information, visit www.usadf.gov
About the Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2017, the Fellowship provides 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home. For more information, visit www.yali.state.gov/washington-fellowship.

For the official press release, click here.

List of USADF 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows Winners: 

·         Koketso Leshope, Botswana, Ma-Tla-Long

·         Malick Lingani, Burkina Faso, Magic Touch

·         Narcisse Parfait, Cameroon, Agri-Invest

·         Flavien Simo, Cameroon, Save Our Agriculture

·         Henry Foretia, Cameroon, Ets. Henry Et Freres

·         Rock Klahadoum, Chad, First Business Center

·         Yannick Rudahindwa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cedya Systems

·         Joel Mayimbi, Democratic Republic of Congo, First Tech RDC

·         Melaku Lemma, Ethiopia, SLM Teaching Aid Materials

·         Ama Duncan, Ghana, Fabulous Woman Network

·         Isaac Quaidoo, Ghana, Nexlinks Company

·         Silvia Tonui, Kenya, Marigat Gold Enterprises

·         Paballo Mokoqo, Lesotho, Dust Busters Home Cleaning Service

·         Israely Andrianjafiarisaona, Madagascar, Fereau Technologie

·         Mavis Banda, Malawi, Kanjadza Acres

·         Aderonke Jaiyeola, Nigeria, Pattern Design

·         Chioma Ukonu, Nigeria, RecyclePoints

·         Usman Lawan, Nigeria, USAIFA International

·         Atinuke Lebile, Nigeria, Cato Food and Agro Allied Global Concepts

·         Ucheoma Udoha, Nigeria, Cripvision

·         Janvier Uwayezu, Rwanda, Rwanda Biosolution

·         Sylvie Sangwa, Rwanda, SYBASH

·         Papa Zongo, Senegal, Ailes Du Gaal

·         Insa Drame, Senegal, CAIF

·         Thabang Mabuza, South Africa, Ulwazi Resource Center

·         Jennifer Shigoli, Tanzania, Elea Reusable Sanitary Pads

·         Domitila Silayo, Tanzania, Mayai Poa

·         Dina Kikuli, Tanzania, H.D. Agribusiness

·         Delia Diabangouaya, Togo, Chocotogo

·         Adjo Bokon, Togo, MiabePads

·         Francis Asiimwe, Uganda, Kaaro Telehealth

·         Rodney Nganwa, Uganda, My Boda

·         Guy Mbewe, Zambia, Kukula Solar

·         Muzalema Mwanza, Zambia, Lakefarms and Fishing Lodge

·         Connie Karoro, Zimbabwe, Coco Seed Culture

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dotAfrica (.africa) the best option for Africa in cyberspace
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 7, 2017/ — It is now possible to own an Internet address, or domain name, ending with .africa.

Already, more than 8000 of the continent’s and world’s biggest brands, businesses and individuals have registered for this exciting new Internet address.

Diverse organisations ranging from banks to media companies are registering .africa domain names. “Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are valuable virtual real estate,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name on behalf of the continent.

54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s. These written resolutions stated that ICT will be central to Africa’s future wellbeing and .africa is surely amongst the top African-led ICT initiatives of the last twenty years.

“Initiatives like .africa help harness the power of new technologies to solve old problems. .africa is unique in that it gives Africans an important sense of pride to help motivate them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves. ZACR appeals to all Africans to take ownership of .africa, because it truly belongs to us all,” concludes Masilela.

.africa domain names are now available and anyone can register through companies listed here: http://Registry.Africa/registrars

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Five years on: Syngenta’s Africa ambition bearing fruit, but access to technology by small farmers remains limited
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 6, 2017/ —

  • African market leader in agritech initiates stock-taking exercise with African partners
  • African Green Revolution Forum a “springboard” for forging more collaborations to reach more smallholders
A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

In 2012, following the G8 in Camp David, USA, Syngenta (www.Syngenta.com) announced an ambitious ten-year growth plan for our African business. This year marks the midway point in our African growth journey. Syngenta wrote in the Wall Street Journal “the continent can be food-secure within a generation…a boon for business and humanity alike” (May 22, 2012). As we take stock, what have we achieved so far and where are the bottlenecks?

Tabitha Muthoni grows tomatoes in Utange, near Mombasa. There are more than 450 million smallholder farmers like her around the globe, most of whom have family farms of less than 2 hectares of land.

For farmers like Tabitha, increased productivity can make a big difference in their ability to support their families, send their children to school and continue investing in their fields.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Since 2016, Tabitha has been part of Mavuno Zaidi, a project by Syngenta and TechnoServe that tackles difficulties faced by potato and tomato farmers in Kenya, including access to inputs, training opportunities and post-harvest storage solutions. Farmers participating also get better linkages to local markets. “Before the program” Tabitha says, “I had tried out tomato farming but had little knowledge on the crop and its diseases, often visiting agrovets with picked leaves to explain the problems I was facing.” Now she makes $5,000 per season on her small tomato farm—an increase from $2,000—and has grown from 4 to 11 employees.

To date, Mavuno Zaidi, or “grow more” in Swahili, has helped Syngenta and TechnoServe reach over 25,000 farmers, returning an average productivity increase of 185% for those tomato farmers.

Reaching out to farmers like Tabitha is just one example of our Africa ambition.

Alexandra Brand, Syngenta’s Regional Director for Europe, Africa and Middle East, joining this week’s AGRF explains, “Our chief aim is supporting the inclusion of smallholder farmers into viable value-chains so that they produce more of what national and global markets want. We strive to transform farmer yields at scale and increase their profitability in a way that creates sustainable value.”

How does Syngenta do this exactly?

Alexandra summarizes: “Our expertise lays in bringing top-class technology and agronomic knowledge tailored to the needs of diverse growers. Recognizing that Syngenta cannot achieve these goals alone and that farmers require holistic solutions, we continue to invest in innovative partnerships. These collaborations must tackle such barriers faced by African farmers as access to inputs, inadequate financial solutions, limited produce aggregation, dysfunctional markets, skills and information gaps.”

But despite many collaborative efforts, progress is slow.

Moving Africa closer to the UN Sustainability Development Goal of “Zero Hunger” requires long-term commitment. Moreover, the food chain revolving around the smallholder remains too disjointed.

Alexandra elaborates: “We see AGRF as a springboard to build stronger partnerships with like-minded organizations who share our vision and who can complement our skills and expertise with their own.”

Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale. We at Syngenta believe that only through creative and committed collaborations can farmers access the full suite of products and services they need to succeed.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities.

Working across more than 50 countries in Africa and the Middle East with a team of over 3000 people, Syngenta is driving growth through local investment, capacity building and business development initiatives that aim to provide crop protection and seed technologies tailored to the specific needs of this territory’s vast potential. Our ambition is to increase large and small scale farmer’s ability to sustainably invest in agriculture, leading to dignified livelihoods and thriving rural communities.

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