AGRIBUSINESS IN WEST AFRICA

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1 AGRIBUSINESS IN WEST AFRICA FACT PACK BUSINESS SWEDEN, SEPTEMBER 2016

2 Agricultural production is one of the most important economic sectors in the majority of African countries. Approximately 75% of Africans rely on it for their livelihoods There are beneficial natural conditions and resources making Africa a suitable place for agribusiness All country cases would benefit from, and are in need of, agribusiness mechanisation Poor infrastructure is and obstacle for African agribusiness exports Cocoa and palm oil are two major production categories There are significant differences between the countries in the region, both in terms of production and political climate MALAK SEKKAT Associate ,

3 AGRIBUSINESS IN WEST AFRICA Through mechanisation Africa has the opportunity to increase productivity and once again become a net exporter of agricultural products. African agriculture has fallen behind in many aspects as oil and mining has become the main focus for many Sub Saharan governments in recent years. Africa has transformed from a net exporter of agricultural products to a net importer. Other sector s need for low-skilled workers grows which creates labour shortages in the agricultural sector at the same time as mechanization is developing slowly. The growth of the agricultural sector has been largely driven by area expansion, and Africa is falling behind in productivity. The success of farming and the success of agro-industries are tightly linked, and the development of a vibrant agro-industry sector is vital in order to be able to offer employment for the large number of smallholder farmers who are unlikely to farm their way out of poverty. But in order for Africa s agribusiness to create the amount of jobs needed and produce enough food for the growing population in the next couple of years, the sector needs to undergo major structural changes. West Africa has an underdeveloped agricultural sector which is unorganized with small scale farmers and a low degree of mechanization, even more so than other parts of the continent. Although the region is very diverse with each country offering a unique political and macroeconomic context, the key concept of succeeding with business in West Africa is relationship building. FACT PACK BUSINESS SWEDEN 3

4 COUNTRY CASES GHANA Growth in the Ghanaian agribusiness sector stems from base effects as the sector is operating in a widely underdeveloped framework. Poor infrastructure hampers export opportunities and a production dominated by unorganized small-scale farmers is making it difficult and costly to implement national schemes aiming at improving quality and production effectiveness. The growing mining and manufacturing industry is creating labour shortages in the agricultural sector and many farmers are of old age. The weak Ghanaian currency is playing a twofaced part in the development of the agribusiness. On one hand a weak currency boosts exports, but on the other hand it hinders the development of mechanization, since the agricultural equipment is often imported. Despite the facts above, the sector is forecasted to experience growth in the next couple of years. High prices for crops, governmental efforts to improve infrastructure, implementations of schemes in the cocoa and palm oil sector, and growing domestic income will continue to drive growth. Ghana is also well positioned for export to the European market as well as several emerging markets in Africa and the Middle East. Ghana offers a good business environment as the second largest economy in West Africa with a more diverse economy than most countries in Africa and a lower degree of corruption than Italy and Greece. Incentives offered by the government for foreign investors in Agribusiness includes five-year tax holiday for agro-processing businesses, custom duty exemptions for agricultural and industrial machinery and equipment imported for investment purpose, and locationbased tax rebates for manufacturing industries located in regional capitals. Ghana, among other cocoa producers in Africa, has developed extensive incentives and schemes for first-stage processing of cocoa, i.e. grinding the beans into cocoa paste and butter, in an attempt to capture larger pieces of the value chain as raw cocoa accounts for less than 10 % of the retail price of chocolate. However the most important cocoa regulator in the country has been rumoured to suffer from financial problems, which implies a risk of subsidies and grants being cut off in the near future. Ghana also faces major problems with cocoa being smuggled into Côte d Ivoire due to higher prices. NIGERIA Nigeria has the largest population, economy and consumer market in a rising Africa, and the Nigerian economy showed strong growth up until By then, the fall in the global price of crude oil slowed the economy and during 2015 Nigeria s GDP experienced a 4.4% growth. With the uncertainty of the oil market, the government has increasingly steered its focus towards the agricultural sector. In 34 years time, Nigeria will feed five percent of the entire humanity according to the Minister of Agriculture. For that to become reality, the agriculture sector needs to undergo major structural changes in order to increase productivity. Some of the efforts needed include improvement of the infrastructure for a higher degree of market access, income insurances for weather-related crop failure, a privately managed fertilizer subsidy scheme for poor farmers and an increase in import tariffs to promote self-reliance through import substitution. 4 BUSINESS SWEDEN FACT PACK

5 Agriculture accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nigeria s employment and has 84 million hectares of fertile land, making the market opportunities vast. However, Operating in Nigeria comes with great challenges. Bringing equipment into Nigeria exposes it to piracy, making reliable partners key for success in the region. Moreover, a majority of farmers buy their products from the closest dealer; hence the network needed for success can also seem daunting. The Federal Government is however pushing large reforms and schemes, opening up major opportunities for those that wish to position themselves for future growth. The Government has for instance set aside 40 billion naira to support small holder farmers at a maximum interest rate of 9% and is currently operating a large equipment rental scheme. The explosion of urban markets also offers openings for upstream and downstream agribusiness industries. Urban consumers demand for more processed and convenience food will generate demand for the food manufacturing and services sector. CÔTE D IVOIRE One exception from the trend throughout Africa of increased import of agricultural products is Côte d Ivoire. Côte d Ivoire is the world s largest Cocoa producer and has continuously had a strong export orientation. Although the farming is dominated by small-scale farmers, the farmers are largely organised in cooperatives, which facilitates the implementation of schemes and effort for structural changes. The degree of mechanization in agriculture has however remained low even though both the cooperatives and the government are trying to stimulate increased use of equipment among the farmers. Contrasting the alarming development between 1985 and 2008, when the estimated share of the population living below the poverty line increased from around 10% to about 49%, Côte d Ivoire is today by far the fastest growing economy in the West African region with a GDP growth of 8.4 % in The economic activity has had a dynamic pace across all sectors and the economy has benefitted from increased demand and purchase power for government and public expenditure, as well as increasing private and public investments. The growth outlook remains strong. BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY With large natural resources and conditions for agriculture, and an underdeveloped infrastructure and productivity, West Africa offer possibilities for Swedish companies to aid in mechanization of the agribusiness and supply solutions for an infrastructure able to support a net export of agricultural goods. Although the sector has received less attention from local governments during the last years there are indications of increasing investments and ambitious goals. For example, Nigeria s goal of feeding 5 % of the human population in 34 years time shows that Western Africa has intentions to create a flourishing agricultural industry. FACT PACK BUSINESS SWEDEN 5

6 BUSINESS SWEDEN Box 240, SE Stockholm, Sweden World Trade Center, Klarabergsviadukten 70 T F Business Sweden s purpose is to help every Swedish company to reach its full international potential and help companies abroad to reach their potential by investing in Sweden. The purpose is operationalised through 450 staff deployed at 14 offices in Sweden and at 55 offices in 49 key markets abroad. Feel free to contact us for any questions regarding Swedish international trade or foreign investments in Sweden.

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