Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote may become the largest exporter of rice in the world by 2021.
Speaking at the Mo Ibrahim Forum in Morocco , Adesina said Africa must focus on agriculture to drive growth and create jobs on the continent.
“I remember when I was minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. Aliko Dangote was there, and he was our biggest importer at the time, and he and I used to have all the time to dialogue,” Adesina said.
“One day, I was in my office, about 10 O’clock, Aliko walks in, Ngozi was minister of finance. Aliko bangs on my door and said ‘minister I came to see you’, and I said ‘what are we going to disagree on this time?’
“He said no, I have actually looked at the policies, and the policies you put in place for import substitution are very right policies. So, I have changed my business model from being an importer to being a local producer.”
Adesina narrated the role Dangote played in his happiest day as a minister in Nigeria.
“I said what exactly are you going to do. He said I will put in $300 million into producing and processing rice in Nigeria. I said yippee! I went home, I told my wife, my best day as minister,” he said.
“He comes back three months after that, he says I have changed my mind, I said ‘what in the world happened?’ He said no, I have changed my mind from $300 million to a billion dollars.
“If they continue that policy, he would probably be the single largest producer of rice in the world, in about four years. The reason why I was so excited about that is that agriculture is cool, agriculture is a business…agriculture pays.”
Adesina was named Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2013, while Dangote won the same award in 2014.
It would be recalled that a tripartite agreement put together by the Dangote Rice limited to create jobs for 16,000 outgrower rice farmers in Sokoto was recently signed with the Sokoto State government and rice growers in the country after which he launched the rice outgrowers scheme in Sokoto.
Aliko Dangote , the Chairman of Dangote Rice Limited, Asaid he was moved to go into rice cultivation because of the genuine interest of the Federal government to revive agriculture as the mainstay of the economy, and reduce importation of foods that could be produced locally.
He lamented that Nigeria consumes 6.5 Mtn of rice which costs the nation over 2 billion dollars annually pointing out that it is heartening that the government now has policy direction that encourages private sector’s active participation in agriculture.
He disclosed then that “In the next three years we want to produce one million tons of quality rice and make it available and affordable to the people. We hope to do 150, 000 ha and when we are done, Nigeria will not have anything to do with importation of rice.
“Dangote Rice outgrowers scheme is committed to creating significant number of jobs, increasing the incomes of smallholders farmers and ensuring food security in the country by providing high quality seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals as well as technical assistance on best agricultural practice to farmers.
"This Scheme will help to diversify the economy, alleviate poverty and reduce the nation's import bill. The scheme has been designed as a one stop solution for the rice value chain," Dangote stated.
Source: thebftonline.com / Ghana
In Kenya, it’s estimated that 30% of newspaper revenue comes from government advertising. In 2013, the government spent Ksh40 million in two weeks just to publish congratulatory messages for the new President Uhuru Kenyatta.
But with a general election coming up this year in August, the Kenyan government has decided to stop advertising in local commercial media. In a memo, reportedly sent to all government accounting officers, the directive was given that state departments and agencies would only advertise in My.Gov - a government newspaper and online portal.
Electronic advertising would only be aired on the state broadcaster – the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. It’s difficult not to characterise the withdrawal of state advertising from commercial media as punitive. Without this revenue stream newspapers are likely to fold.
Worse still, efforts to withdraw government advertising from commercial media can be interpreted as a worrying way to undermine the freedom of expression. Starving news media of revenue is a means of indirect state control. This has been the case in countries such as Serbia, Hungary, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. But to fully understand the link between government spend on advertising and media freedom it’s important to take a historical perspective.
How did we get here?
The 1990s saw the adoption of multi-party politics in many African countries. This led to relatively liberal constitutions in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana among others.
Since then, most African governments have grown anxious about their inability to control the local news agenda, much less articulate government policy. For governments in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more recently Tanzania, controlling the news agenda is seen as a means to stay in power. Views that compete with the state position are often cast as legitimising the opposition agenda.
This is part of a much broader strategy for political control which Africanist historians and political scientists have called the “ideology of order”. This is based on the premise that dissent is a threat to nationbuilding and must therefore be diminished.
The narrative was popularised by most post-independence African governments and emphasized through incessant calls for what they liked to call “unity”.
In Kenya, former president Daniel Moi even coined his own political philosophy of “peace, love and unity”. Citizens were expected to accept this narrative unequivocally. Dissenting views were undermined through state-controlled media such as Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and newspapers such as the Kenya Times.
From the 1960s - 1980s, African governments conveniently used the nation-building argument to suppress legitimate dissent. Opposition was punished by imprisonment, forced exile and even death. This was common practice in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and in West Africa more generally. The current political climate on the continent is premised on constitutional safeguards including the protection of free speech which make these kinds of punishments unlikely in the present day.
Many countries now have institutional safeguards including fairly robust judicial systems capable of withstanding the tyranny of naked state repression. As a result, the media is controlled in subtler ways and its violence is softer. It’s against this background that I interpret the withdrawal of government adverts from the commercial media in Kenya.
Controlling media budgets
In Kenya, the decision followed a special cabinet meeting which agreed that a new newspaper would be launched to articulate the government agenda more accurately. The government also argued that the move was part of an initiative to curb runaway spending by lowering advert spend in Kenya’s mainstream media and directing all the money to the new title.
A similar move was made in South Africa last year when the government’s communications arm announced that it would scale down government advertising in local commercial media. Instead, advertisements would be carried in the government newspaper Vuk’uzenzele. The decision withdrew an estimated $30 million from the country’s commercial newspaper industry.
The South African government also claimed that the move was made to reduce government spending. But critics have argued that the decision was made to punish a media outlet that’s been particularly critical of President Jacob Zuma’s presidency.
In both countries the decisions have hit at a particularly hard time for the media industry, providing governments with the perfect tool with which to control the press.
Will a free press survive
Commercial news media is going through a period of unprecedented crisis. The old business models are unable to sustain media operations as audiences adopt new ways of consuming news. More than that, mass audiences are growing ever smaller. Newspapers particularly haven’t been able to adapt to the changing profile of the old versus the new newspaper reader.
The effect has been that newspapers are no longer as attractive to advertisers. As such, they have to rely a lot more on state money and patronage for survival. To sidestep state control commercial media in Africa must rethink their business models and diversify their revenue streams.
It won’t be an easy road but non-state media must also work hard to disrupt this re-emerging narrative of “order”. Nation states cannot revert to the dark days when government policy was singular and alternative viewpoints were silenced or delegitimised.
South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa tells BBC dinner this has to happen and it is going to happen whether people like it or not. The transformation of South Africa's economy is inevitable.
He was speaking at the Black Business Council dinner under the theme Economic Recovery. "I would say to those who are dismissing this term, sit down, listen, smell the coffee... realise that the transformation of our economy is non-negotiable," said Ramaphosa.
He said the government had hoped to create more sustainable growth, higher investment, increased employment, reduced inequality and to deradicalise the economy.
The deputy president said radical economic transformation was essentially about building an inclusive and more collective economy in the country. As South Africa moves closer to the ANC's National elective conference in December and its policy conference in June many are paying even closer attention to its leaders, particularly Ramaphosa who said he was available for the role of becoming the ANC's president when the incumbent Jacob Zuma steps down in December.
Ramaphosa is facing fierce competition for the role from former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who has herself made strong remarks regarding the need for radical economic transformation. Sharing similar views Ramaphosa said transformation is what leaders in the country have been called to do.
"It is in the end about building a more equal society, drawing one third of the working age South Africans into the mainstream," said Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa, who received a warm reception from various business leaders in the room, also received rapturous applause when he was mistakenly called "Mr President" twice by the programme director George Sebulela, Secretary General of the BBC.
He said the government needed to increase the level of interventions that often leave some without getting assistance.
"Our political life at the moment is fractious, with public sentiments appearing to be more polarised and public discourse more charged and shriller than any other time since 1994," he said.
Botswana is the most attractive economy for investments flowing into the African continent, according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2016 by Quantum Global’s independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab.
According to the Index, Botswana scores highly based on a range of factors that include improved credit rating, current account ratio, import cover and ease of doing business.
Commenting on the Index, Prof Mthuli Ncube, Head of Quantum Global Research Lab stated: “Despite considerable external challenges and the fall in oil prices, many of the African nations are demonstrating an increased willingness to achieve sustainable growth by diversifying their economies and introducing favourable policies to attract inward investments. Botswana is a case in example - its strategic location, skilled workforce and a politically stable environment have attracted the attention of international investors leading to a significant influx of FDI.”
According to the report, the top five African investment destinations attracted an overall FDI of $13.6bn. Morocco was ranked second on the Index based on its increasing solid economic growth, strategic geographic positioning, increased foreign direct investment, import cover ratio, and an overall favourable business environment. Egypt was ranked third due to an increased foreign direct investment and real interest rates, and a growing urban population. The fourth country on the list, South Africa, scored well on the growth factor of GDP, ease of doing business in the country and significant population. Whilst Zambia was the fifth country on the list due to its significant domestic investment and access money supply.
Mthuli further commented: “With a population of over one billion people and rapidly growing middle class, Africa clearly offers significant opportunities to invest in the continent’s non-commodities sectors such as financial services, construction and manufacturing amongst others. However, structural reforms and greater private sector involvement are crucial to unlocking Africa’s true potential.”