In an exclusive interview with African Harvesters, the CEO Welcome2Africa Bamidele Owoola speaks on Agric Investment in Africa and the solutions Welcome2Africa has for the current challenges.
See information on the interview below
Question 1: Can you introduce yourself and what your organization does?
I am Miss Bamidele Oluwaseun Owoola, CEO, Welcome2Africa International. Welcome2Africa international is a private sector development company committed to the positive economic viability and social growth of Africa. We develop and initiate a range of activities to catalyse and facilitate investment, trade and business interest into and across Africa – with a current focus and commitment to the development and transformation of Africa’s Agribusiness sector. We do this by three ways:
Firstly, through Knowledge sharing/ Capacity building which basically includes conferences, training, and investment forums. This is done within and outside Africa and also includes site visits. This is an excellent opportunity for investors to see first -hand the agribusiness operations and visualise where exactly their investment could be going.
Secondly, through Investment Promotions involves sourcing and promoting agribusiness opportunities to prospective investors
Finally, Brokering, we look to broker deals between agribusinesses and investors. Though we are not limited to this type of brokering as we look to venture into various types in the nearest future.
Question 2: What are the commitments of Welcome2Africa towards the development and transformation of Africa’s Agribusiness sector?
Welcome2Africa is committed to becoming a centre of excellence for the facilitation and deployment of investments in the African continent. We will connect companies in Africa seeking trade and investment with partners across the world and also provide the platforms for stakeholders in African agriculture to share best practice, receive training and advice, discuss issues affecting or hindering the development of agriculture in Africa and showcase businesses seeking investment.
Through our innovative, well thought through, sector focussed initiatives and client services, we seek to have a proactive contribution to the positive development of Africa
Question 3: What are the challenges faced in facilitating investment, trade and business interest into Africa?
The challenges faced in facilitating investment, trade and business interest into Africa cannot be overemphasized, however to mention a few we have;
Inadequate infrastructural and human capital– Investors, both domestic and foreign, are naturally hesitant about investing in countries where basic requirements such as accessible roads, power supply, utilities are inadequate. In African countries many forms of business ventures are prevented by the lack of skilled personnel, this calls for greater investment in human capital
Another related and equally unfavourable force is political instability. Africa today is not only facing an economic crisis characterized by famine, malnutrition, high rates of unemployment, refugees, and severe poverty, but is also weighed down by serious political problems, including a one-person rule, violation of human rights, inter-ethnic and interregional conflict, and so forth. All these problems have projected an image that Africa is a region riddled by crises and not conducive to investment.
The rate of return on investment in Africa has declined significantly over the years and more precipitously during the past decade. The chronic and persistent shortage of foreign exchange and restrictions on foreign currency transfers is also considered as a serious constraint facing investors in Africa
These and much more pose as challenges faced in facilitating trade and investment notwithstanding there are ways to revive this. Welcome2Africa recognizes the fact that through initiatives such as the Agrique Africa Investment Mission 2017 whose main aim is to mobilise investment interest and trade into Nigeria’s agribusiness sector and provide a platform which actually facilitates this investment into tangible agribusiness opportunities
Question 4: Food Security is an issue in Africa. What is your advice attaining food sufficiency in Africa?
The population on the African continent is growing rapidly. Currently, Africa ensures food supply by domestic food production. The primary condition for successfully growing any crop is having soil with appropriate properties. However many African soils are of low quality. A study by the US Department of Agriculture points out: “Fifty-five percent of the land in Africa is unsuitable for any kind of agriculture except nomadic grazing”, the analysis of the current situation of African soils and crop growing conditions can generally be seen as unfavourable. But looking forward into the century climate change also has to be taken increasingly into consideration as a determining factor. Climate change is having and will increasingly have more severe implications on food security in Africa.
Highest immediate priority should be given to developmental efforts that increase agricultural efficiency such as the widespread implementation of drip irrigation schemes to offset the negative effects of climate change while still increasing production. Awareness has to be created about the effects of climate change on food security and appropriate adaptive capacity should be created. Changes in diet and a lower dependence on meat based food might have to be promoted.
Finally, a solution to the ongoing unsustainable population growth needs to be found.
Question 5: There are lots of activities towards the AAIM Investment Forum 2017. Kindly explain some of the benefits for attendance
The primary purpose is to mobilise finance and to create a platform which allows business interactions to take place. As a direct result of this, sustainable jobs will be created, food security will be improved and other crossover sectors directly impacted by the agricultural sector will start to boom also. We anticipate causing a stimulus that leads to many great economic and social results for Nigeria.
For sponsors, this is a great opportunity to increase your brand amongst either investors or agribusinesses and be associated with an organisation that is bringing the right people with the right solutions to the table.
For participants and those with a commercial interest, this a great opportunity to gain market insights, to understand more about the intricacies of investing in the agricultural sector, and a fantastic opportunity to network with the relevant stakeholders of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
Question 6: How has agribusiness investment in Africa changed over the years and what other solutions can be done by relevant Agric stakeholders?
Agribusiness investment requires an in-depth understanding of specific crops, geographies, and complex value chains that encompass seeds and other inputs, production, processing, and retailing. Many of the significant investment opportunities are in geographies unfamiliar to some investors, and their profitability rests not only on crop yields but also on how different parts of the value chain perform. A whole lot still needs to be done concerning agribusiness investment in Africa although considering how it all started I must say we are progressing gradually. Agric stakeholders should support projects across the food supply chain, including processing, logistics, and distribution which in turn will develop an efficient and competitive agribusiness sector. Achieving this will have a strong impact on reducing poverty and improving lives since most of Sub-Saharan Africa’s poor live in rural areas that depend on agriculture.