RWANDA - The first African Transformation Forum (ATF) to be held in Kigali next month will focus on how the continent can use agriculture as a base for its economic transformation, the organisers said in a press statement on Monday.
The African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) and the Government of Rwanda are organising the event scheduled for March 14-15 in Kigali.
According to ACET, the forum seeks to facilitate knowledge sharing and peer learning across global and African luminaries from the public and private sectors.
“Participants will contribute their rich insights, and uncover challenges and solutions for galvanising economic transformation in Africa.”
The statement added that the discussions will focus on the co-ordinated development and implementation of national development plans, and catalysing transformation within critical sectors, including the extractives industry, light manufacturing, agriculture, skills development, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, infrastructure, and regional integration.
President Paul Kagame is expected to deliver the keynote address at the forum that will attract Africa’s top economists, policy-makers, business leaders, and development practitioners.
Speaking about the event, Francis Mulangu, an agricultural economist at ACET, said African needs to increase agriculture production, arguing that “a surplus-generating agricultural sector can provide cheap food, ensuring adequate nutrition for the population, including its workforce, and also increasing the amount of disposable income left for individuals and families.”
He said this generates demand for other goods and services, creating direct and indirect jobs.
“Surplus production is also used to provide raw materials for industry, setting off a positive chain reaction including production, marketing, distribution and all the other value additions involved,” he said.
Agricultural transformation starts by improving productivity, he added.
Higher productivity implies that households will have enough food for their own consumption and surpluses to sell to the market to get more money to diversify their diets and satisfy their non-food needs. However, agricultural productivity in Africa is about one third that of Asian smallholder farmers.
The forum will discuss in detail how the continent can harness agriculture sector to create more jobs for its people.
It will also be used to launch the Coalition for Transformation in Africa, a new leadership network organised in chapters, each addressing a specific thematic area.
The chapters will be constituted by policy-makers, business leaders and development partners, and will examine and develop implementable solutions for development.
February 21, 2016; http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-02-18/197182/