Africa’s growth potential is hidden in agriculture

Monday September 16 2019

Jonah Kiberu

Jonah Kiberu  

By Jonah Kiberu

The world’s population by 2015 was estimated to be 7.3 billion, and is expected to be 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100 (UN DESA Report, 2015).

While the population continues to grow, the world’s food production is not commensurate with the rate of population growth and thus prediction of famine, hunger and starvation.

Despite this, most of the world’s largest economies such as China, Japan, Russia and the US, among others, have invested a lot in industrialiation. Africa’s industrial sector lags behind and is not expected to rise to produce miracles as the already developed economies have their products flooding the market, especially those from Japan and China.

Given that industrialisation may no longer be the ultimate solution to growth in Africa due to stiff competition, the continent now remains with agriculture as the most appropriate saviour. Africa has all it takes to have the best agricultural sector.

It is blessed with lakes which can help in supply of water for farming. It is also endowed with a large number of rivers, not forgetting Africa’s tropical and equatorial climate, which is highly suitable for agriculture. The continent is also surrounded by a large expanse of water – ocean and seas, to favour transportation of agricultural exports using water transport. Every country in Africa has access to water in the required quantities to facilitate irrigation to foster arable farming.

It has a lot of volcanic soils, which are fertile and favour arable farming. This will make Africa the World’s food nucleus to feed the global growing population with ease. Many youth and women will be employed in the agricultural sector to earn a living. Why not commercialise agricultural then?


It is no doubt that if Africa prioritises agriculture as a commercial sector, industrialisation, particularly agro-based industries, will also inevitably find a gap to grow. The population size on the continent by 2016 was 1.216 billion, bigger than that of Europe (741.4 million) and South America (422.5 million) combined.

Therefore, if one person in Africa can only engage in agriculture to feed three people, one European, one South American and himself (the African), the two continents, South America and Europe, will have enough food and the African will also remain with ample food for home consumption. Africa’s export sector will thus highly rise with commercialisation of agriculture appearing on the front pages of its countries’ national budgets.

If one African has the capacity to feed three people, two foreigners and him/herself, there is no doubt the total export revenue for the continent will ignite a smile on the faces of the desperate Africans. Developing our agricultural sector would also pave way for the growth of other sectors such as transport, banking, export, among others.

All ports around Africa would become busy as the export of food products would be high and looking at an African in continents such as Europe shall simply bring a definition of food.

Crops themselves, whether grown for commercial purposes or subsistence, will make Africa beautiful, with the green appearing in its environment and portraying the capacity to help the entire world with solving diet challenges. Many tourists will start flowing into Africa to at least have a look at the centre behind the happiness of every face in the World.

Mr Kiberu is a director at Gateway Research Centre-Kampala |