Development financial institutions have announced their commitments to speed up the special agro-industrial processing zones (SAPZ) initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) across the continent.
They made the pledge at the first partnership meeting for agro-industrialisation on Monday.
The SAPZ are established to focus on agro-processing activities in areas with high levels of agricultural potential.
The initiative intends to enable farmers, agricultural producers, processors, aggregators, and distributors to work together in one location, thereby lowering transaction costs and sharing business development services to boost productivity and competitiveness.
The institutions said the SAPZ could trigger a fundamental change in Africa’s economic transformation. The institutions include African Export-Import (Afrexim) Bank, Industrial Development Corporation, Africa Finance Corporation, and Trade and Development Bank.
Others are the OPEC Fund for International Development; Africa 50; West African Development Bank; Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa; Islamic Development Bank, and International Fund for Agricultural Development.
The development institutions, including the private developers of Special Economic Zones, and key global and regional players in Africa’s agri-business sector agreed to work together under a cooperation framework for SAPZ implementation in Africa, under the leadership of the African Development Bank.
“At the African Development Bank, we believe that turnkey projects, such as Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones, are crucial to development,” Beth Dunford, AfDB vice-president for agriculture, human and social development, said.
“They bring together the ecosystem in regional value chains and key commodities, bringing together production, post-harvest, logistics, and processing to feed Africa’s growing cities and export to the world in a sustainable, green, and affordable way.”
Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, special adviser on industrialisation to the AfDB president, said that the cooperation framework would ensure that each SAPZ attracts the right investment, is implemented to high standards, and avoids unpredictable risks like political setbacks.
Earlier in the month, AfDB announced that it was working with development partners in mobilising $520 million to co-finance the first phase of SAPZs in Nigeria.