Food Security, Investment, and the G-8

State Department Photo

Guest post by John Schellhase, Program Assistant at the NYU Development Research Institute (DRI).

At the end of May, President Obama and other leaders of the G-8 announced the creation of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.  A number of African heads of state and high-level officials attended the announcement in Washington D.C., including CTED partner Eleni Gabre-Madhin, CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange.

In anticipation of the summit, 48 companies committed to invest over $3 billion in the agricultural sector across Africa.  The investments will start in Tanzania, Ghana, and Ethiopia, expanding soon to Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and other nations.

The idea is that private enterprise will continue to drive Africa’s economic growth and improve living conditions around the continent.  The New Alliance has the ambitious target of raising 50 million people out of poverty in the next ten years.

So who’s in the “alliance”?

The nations of the G-8, the African nations listed above, a handful of United Nations agencies, and a large number of private corporations make up the New Alliance.  Of the 48 companies that pledged investments, 21 are African and 27 are multinational corporations.  The UN agencies involved include the World Food Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  The World Bank, African Development Bank, and African Union are also supporting the initiative.

Most of the $3 billion commitment comes from Yara International, a Norwegian chemical company specializing in fertilizers.  Yara is seeking out a location in Africa to invest $1.5-2 billion to build fertilizer production plant.

Other notable pledges include an $135 million investment in financial services for small to medium-sized agricultural companies in West Africa from Rabobank.  Vodafone will work with 500,000 farmers in Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya to increase their productivity and income through mobile technology.  This Connected Farmer Alliance resembles the work we’ve done on market information systems in Ghana with the mobile company Esoko.

During our annual conference in February, CTED hosted a panel discussion on Food Security.  Reflecting on the conversation, CTED Ph.D. student Giorgia Romagnoli wrote,

“There is nothing less appropriate than the image of an endless line of international food containers for the future of Africa. Technological and institutional innovations are helping reach the ultimate goal of ending famine in Africa from within and for good.”

As the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition moves forward, we’ll be watching to see how the pledges transform into action and how these investments benefit people on the ground.

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About CTED

CTED, as part of the New York University Abu Dhabi Research Grant, is a multidisciplinary research lab that focuses on combining economic principles, technological advances, and human-centric design to create innovative solutions for the problems experienced in emerging regions.
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