NewsNorth AfricaAfrica's Agriculture sector suffers coordination failure - Philippe Scholtes


Posted on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 18:02

Africa's Agriculture sector suffers coordination failure - Philippe Scholtes

 Philippe Scholtes, the director of the the UN’s Industrial Development Organization's agri-business development branchAfrican agriculture is suffering a "coordination failure" with state and private sector organisations unable to effectively work together, according to a United Nations' industrialisation expert.


Despite the key role played by farming in the African economy, agricultural development is being hamstrung by ineffective public-private coordination.

Around 65% of the continent's workforce work in the sector and it contributes some 32% of its gross domestic product.

We have come to the conclusion that it is essentially a matter of coordination failure

Speaking at the Africa CEO Forum in Geneva, Philippe Scholtes, the director of the agri-business development branch of the UN's Industrial Development Organization, said that the sector was stifled by a lack of joined-up thinking.

While agricultural output has improved since 2000 analysts agree that the scale of the growth remains poor.

According to data from the World Bank, agricultural GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa averaged 2.3% per year in the 1980s and rose to 3.8% per year between 2000 and 2005.

However, much of this growth is a result of an expansion in the areas of cultivation, rather than a proportional increase in yields, said Ramesh Moochikals, president and regional head of the south and east Africa division of the supply chain management firm, Olam.

Issues such as a lack of education and training for young people, poor and underdeveloped infrastructure and difficulties in accessing markets, were well known and widely acknowledged, but little is done to resolve them, Moochikals added.

"The question is if the problems are known and if even the solutions have been identified, why is it that it is not moving forward?" asked Scholtes.

"We have come to the conclusion that it is essentially a matter of coordination failure. Its not only a matter of growing more commodities, its a matter of making value out of it. You have a game here where one partner is in a standby position waiting for the other to move first," Scholtes argued.

"Will the government improve first the infrastructure or clean up governance issues or reduce corruption or improve the institutional setup and provide universities more vocational training facilities? Then investors think, yes, if they do that, if they move first then I am ready to move in, but the government might be thinking the same of the private sector.

"So you need to broker some kind of coordination among these different agents to make sure resources converge in an aligned way towards one particular goal."

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