Increasing demand in Sub-Saharan Africa for UK Agri-Tech

Published: 25 April, 2017

Patrick Guyver and Hamish Drewry, Founders of AGRIinsight

Patrick Guyver and Hamish Drewry, Founders of AGRIinsight

Have you considered the African market for your products and services? A number of smaller companies operating successfully in Sub-Saharan Africa will be sharing their experiences in July. These will include Maria Yassin-Jah, CEO and co-founder of Aspuna – a company that has set up The Gambia’s first cassava processing operations – and Hamish Drewry, co-founder of AGRIinsight, an information technology company that is building business networks in Ethiopia and Tanzania, creating tools that will help these organisations have a more effective way of identifying, using and sharing relevant data.

Sub-Saharan Africa is a geographic area covering: West Africa (Nigeria), East (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) and Southern Africa (South Africa, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique). All these markets are connected by a drive to increase agricultural productivity in a region with immense agricultural potential.

Hamish Drewry says there is a growing need for effective information management:

“Agricultural production and agribusiness together constitute an average of around 45% of the economy of sub Saharan Africa (SSA). The share of agribusiness (including logistics and retail) in GDP is around 20%, while the share of agricultural production is around 24% for low-income countries. Because of the substantial rural/urban migration that is now occurring, urban food markets are set to increase fourfold to exceed USD 400 billion by 2030, requiring major agribusiness investments in processing, logistics, market infrastructure, and retail networks.

“Additional pressure will come from the changes in the African diet as a result of the increasing middle class. SSA agribusiness will need to significantly expand and become more efficient to meet the needs.

“Therefore, the agribusiness sector will continue to develop significantly and investments both local and international will increase. The demand for commercially relevant information and analysis is growing. However, the availability of information is still limited and any that is accessible is dispersed; there is no focal point to publish and use. Hence the need for relevant, accessible and up to date agribusiness data on one robust, secure and easily accessible platform.”

Sub-Saharan AfricaUK DIT provides support for export

The UK’s Department for International Trade has an export campaign aimed at the agri-tech sector which covers this geographical area. Jelena Duza, Trade and Investment Advisor for Southern Africa, Agri-Tech & Healthcare, comments that although doing business in Africa does come with its challenges there is considerable potential in this region.

She says: “This region’s agricultural industry is estimated to have a market value of US$1 trillion.   Although diverse, the region is also undergoing increased political stability with an improving business environment and rising consumer class. This, combined with infrastructure development, has resulted in macroeconomic growth in many areas.

“Within the next two years the agricultural sectors offers the highest growth potential for Africa and ranks only marginally behind mining and metals. Agriculture is seen by government as crucial to sustainable development with anglophone markets considered the most attractive followed by francophone markets.”

However she advises: “Companies should be prepared to navigate around the slower pace of doing business and poor governance at times and local partnerships are essential to help them to do this. These partnerships can help to unlock barriers through local expertise, provide contacts and opportunities and help companies to tap into the immense business potential that the region offers.”

Sustainable intensification 

Africa is a diverse market with varying demand trends. Smallholder farms make up the largest percentage of agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa, numbering around 33 million, representing 80% of all farms in the region, and contributing up to 90% of food production in some countries.

The region is also seeing an intensification of agricultural investment and the UK agri-tech offer is well placed to respond to these opportunities. The major opportunities for UK companies are in crop protection, mechanisation, agroprocessing, grain handling and the livestock sectors. The DIT does provide advice on routes to market entry and can also assist in the process of identifying local partners through our bespoke services.

Jelena is looking forward to the Agri-Tech East meeting and says: “I hope to raise awareness about the opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa amongst the UK agri-tech industry and in turn, increase the level of business activity by UK Plc in this region.

“DIT’s mandate is to boost UK exports and through partnering with important role players such as Agri-Tech East on these initiatives, we hope to open up Africa to the UK.”

For more information about the event Exporting your agri-tech to Sub-Saharan Africa, please click here.