AfDB pushes for SAPZs scaling up

MOROCCO, Marrakech THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has stressed the need for countries in Africa to scale up the establishment of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in order to end the export of raw agricultural commodities and ensure food security in the continent.

The AfDB Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said that the only way Africa can end export of raw agricultural commodities is through the establishment of SAPZs.

Dr Adesina was speaking at the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones’ Session as part of the ongoing Africa Investment Form Market Days 2023 organized by AfDB in collaboration with other partners.

“Africa must end the export of raw agricultural commodities. We must recognize 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,” he said.

He said SAPZs provide critical infrastructure to support agro-industrial development in Africa, to unleash the power of its agricultural potentials, with the establishment of food processing and manufacturing companies within the zones.

Dr Adesina detailed that the zones will support the transformation of the agricultural sector, raise productivity, scale economies and efficiencies of food and agricultural value chains.

“They will allow Africa to process its own cashew instead of exporting raw cashew nuts. They will create manufacturing capacities to process cotton into textile and garments, instead of exporting raw cotton.,”

The zones 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, he said.

SAPZs 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.

“The SAPZs offer the infrastructure enabled platforms for Africa to turn its massive agricultural lands into real sources of wealth.,” Dr Adesina insisted.

He noted that to support the establishment of SAPZs, the African Development Bank has provided financing of 853 million US dollars, and mobilized over 661 million US dollars from other development partners.

The AfDB boss named the partners as 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 US dollars in support of the establishment of 25 SAPZs in 11 African countries,” he said.

He stressed the need to scale up resources, partnerships, and alliances in order to expand SAPZs across African countries, and take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

The number of partners joining hands to rapidly scale up the SAPZs across Africa is expanding, including the private sector.

Meanwhile the bank on Wednesday announced the launch of the Alliance for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones together with founding partners Afreximbank, Islamic Development Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms.

AfDB President said the alliance has the goal of mobilizing at least 2 billion US dollars in financing and investment commitments from Alliance members and partners over the next five years.

“Meeting this financing goal will deliver an additional 15 to 20 SAPZ projects in various countries across the continent,” he said.

He said alliance will raise funds through various investment windows for project preparation, project development and construction, and financing for tenant companies.

The AfDB President called upon the investment community to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities in Africa’s increasingly dynamic and profitable food and agricultural sector.

“Invest in the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) and be part of the new wealth of Africa,” Dr Adesina told the investment community.

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