The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) programme of the African Development Bank (AfDB) is seeking to unlock Africa’s $1 trillion food processing potential.
Akinwumi Adesina, the president of AfDB, has said food processing and manufacturing companies will be established within the zones.
He said this at the launch of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones Alliances during the Africa Investment Forum 2023 in Palace Congress, Marrakech.
Africa must become a global player in food and agriculture, and it must end the export of raw agricultural commodities to do so.
He said: “Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones aim to provide critical infrastructure to support agro-industrial development in Africa.
“We must recognise that the fastest way to poverty is via the export of raw commodities, while the highway to wealth is from export of value-added products. That is why Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones are important.”
“The zones will support the transformation of the agricultural sector, raise productivity, scale economies and efficiencies of food and agricultural value chains,” Adesina said, adding that they will allow Africa to process its own cashew instead of exporting raw cashew nuts.
He said the zones will create manufacturing capacities to process cotton into textile and garments, instead of exporting raw cotton.
Adesina said: “They will allow the processing of coffee into brewed coffee, tea leaves into branded tea, cocoa beans into chocolates, cassava into flour and fructose, and fruits and vegetables into fresh or packaged horticulture produce exports.
“They will open new income earning opportunities from the processing of beef instead of African cows emigrating on hoofs, while the rest of the world exports processed beef.”
Adesina said the SAPZs offer the infrastructure enabled platforms for Africa to turn its massive agricultural lands into real sources of wealth.
He said the AfDB has provided financing of $853 million to support the establishment of SAPZs
He said the bank has also mobilised over $661 million from other development partners.
He stated that the number of partners joining hands to rapidly scale up the SAPZs across Africa is expanding, including the private sector.
Adesina said: “Our valued partners include the Islamic Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Arab Bank for Economic Development, the European Union, and the Korean Export-Import Bank.
“We are also working with the African Union to support the Common Africa Agro-Parks Program. Our collective effort has mobilized $1.5 billion in support of the establishment of 25 SAPZs in 11 African countries.”
Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, senior special advisor to the AfDB Group president, said the SAPZ programme was designed to mobilise the private sector partnership including skills, knowledge and financing.
“Africa must halt imports of unprocessed and processed foods that are set to double in 2030 from its current value of close to $60 billion annually,” Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said.
Ryad Mezzour, minister of industry and trade of the Kingdom of Morocco, said lessons Africa can learn from Morocco is all about financing because most of Morocco’s agricultural production, if not all, is already sold before it is done.
He said access to basics such as energy, electricity, gas and water is important and there should be equipped special processing zones.
“You need a star; a company that can bring others and integrate others,” Mezzour said, adding that Africa can build the transformation plant it wants with full integration and access to raw materials.
Hani Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, stated that at the end of the day, if Africa does not add value, it will keep importing and having issues.
“The bottom line is that we want to not just finance, we want to create resilient systems within our member countries,” Sonbol said.