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Growing Africa’s Future

Five Themes to Advance Food Sovereignty on the Continent

Publication "Growing Africa's Future"

Growing Africa's Future

Issued on the occasion of The Africa Roundtable “Growing Africa’s Future: Advancing Food Sovereignty through Agricultural Innovation” in May 2024, authored by partner McKinsey & Company

Growing Africa’s Future

May 7, 2024

Africa has abundant resources to support growth, including untapped arable land. However, food sovereignty – the right of people to define and control their own food and agriculture systems – is not a reality for more than 300 million Africans who are severely food insecure. Climate-related volatility is increasing, and many of these food-insecure people are also among the most vulnerable to its impacts. As the population continues to grow rapidly, the need to sustainably increase the continent’s food supply is critical. Technological innovation, including AI, is not a silver bullet to these challenges, but can support the goal of food sovereignty by focusing on targeted interventions to accelerate supply and unlock untapped resources, including land. While the paper acknowledges the impact of demand-side interventions, such as the inclusion of more locally grown and indigenous foods in consumers’ diets, it focuses primarily on supply-side innovations, including fostering technology collaborations in the sector.

The five themes

  • Food Sovereignty Policies

    To meet the world’s future food, fuel and nature needs, food sovereignty policies can reflect the central role Africa’s land resources could play. The near-term investment opportunity here is to bring underutilised and degraded land into sustainable agricultural production.

  • Local Production and (intra-Africa) Trade

    To achieve self-sufficiency, Africa can focus on both local production and (intra-Africa) trade. In the near term, this offers an opportunity to build on the existing momentum of the AfCFTA for intra-African trade and to promote competitive global trade in export commodities.

  • Climate Action and Sustainable Agribusinesses

    To achieve food sovereignty, Africa can take urgent climate action and build sustainable agribusinesses. Building on the existing momentum of the AfCFTA for intra-Africa trade and boost competitive global trade for export commodities offers a near-term investment opportunity. In addition, the unproved viability of some of the key innovations, such as green ammonia, this is a long-term prospect.

  • New Value Streams

    To unlock new value streams and improve controls in food systems, investment is required to reduce and repurpose food waste and agricultural byproducts. Limited proven or scaled solutions and the need for infrastructure and supply chain improvements make this a long-term opportunity.

  • New Labor-Intensive Forms of Production

    To fully harness Africa’s demographic dividend in agri-food systems may require new labor-intensive forms of production. The scale of change and the pace of demographic change make this a longer-term opportunity.

Contact Persons

Stephanie Igunbor, s.igunbor@globalperspectives.org

Supported by

McKinsey & Company

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