A new investment plan from the European Union (EU) would see the greatest influx of investments into Africa in the face of the continent’s expected population boom.
The EU recently got the green light for its External Investment Plan, through which they want to gather about US$ 52.1 billion in trade funds for sustainable investments in Africa and other EU neighborhood countries by 2020.
“This would be a game changer to mobilise more money for Africa. We want to move beyond aid to trade investment”, said Cristina Miranda Gozalvez, DG for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission.
Speaking at the African Agri Investment Indaba in Cape Town, Gozalvez said the EU wants to use its funding money to leverage additional finance from financial institutions and the public sector.
If the EU could realise these goals, this will be the largest investment programme ever for Africa.
Besides agriculture, 4 other investment “windows” would be targeted, including sustainable energy and connectivity, as well as micro, small and medium sized enterprises, sustainable cities, and digital for investment.
TARGET FOOD PRODUCTION AND JOB CREATION
According to Gozalvez, Africa is expected to be the region with the sharpest incline in population growth in coming years. This means extra pressure on agriculture to produce more food and jobs for the new generation.
According to her, food production in the region is on the decline, with undernourishment on the rise since 2014.
According to the current population growth curve, it is expected that 350 million people will enter the job market in the next 15 years in Africa, she added. This would mean 18 million jobs should be created per year, but currently only 3 million are created.
“This is a major challenge, but I believe it could be an asset, and agriculture would remain the main job provider on the continent. We believe the job opportunities in agriculture are there, but they remain unrecognisable and inaccessible to the African youth. We would also like to add our technical assistance to enable farmers to access funding, because there won’t be a lack of funding, but rather a lack of capacity to access finances.”
She also said that one major drawback for investors on the continent is political insecurity, which is experienced in several countries in Africa.