Africa as a continent has been historically beset by many difficulties and problems and had to some been written off. This is now changing and very rapidly. Whilst all eyes may be focused on Asia, certain parts of Africa have been quietly undergoing rapid change. With a population of 1 billion people with an ever growing purchasing power and expectations, with 70% of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, it is no wonder that there has been a 20% compound growth in Foreign Direct Investment projects between 2007-11.
There is a seeming groundswell of change within the international community for the outlook of Africa:
"Africa could be on the brink of an economic take off, much like China was 30 years ago, and India 20 years ago’ (The World Bank. Source: Africa’s future and the world banks’ support to it". - World Bank 2011
"So the point really is not whether you should be doing business in Africa, but rather how" - (Leslie Rance, CEO FTSE 100 Company)
"Africa is still the untold story, and could be the big story, of the next decade, like India and China were this past decade…. the presence and significance of our business in Africa is far greater than India or China even today. The relevance is much bigger" - (Muhtar Kent, CEO Coca-Cola. October 2010)
And recent Africa Outlook reports from Ernest and Young and Goldman Sachs seem to reiterate this sentiment.
West Africa has a population of 290 million people (US AID), the population in this region is expected to grow 100% between 2010 and 2050 (before stabilising), compared to the global growth rate of 38%. To put this into perspective the EU trading block consists of 500 million people. Within this huge potential opportunity Sunu Agro, as a translation of our company name may suggest ‘Our Agriculture’, we have focused primarily on the Agriculture Sector both in production and processing areas. And a USAID summary of the region would seemingly reinforce this decision- ‘Although West Africa is endowed with ample water resources, including rivers and river basins, access to water remains a challenge. Agriculture remains predominantly rain fed and dominated by small farmers with poor access to agricultural technologies, information and financial services. Population growth combined with low increases in productivity could further tighten resources and increase food insecurity. There is ample evidence that the agriculture sector—and in particular food staples, is the best engine for generating sustained, rapid and pro-poor economic growth.’ (USAID )
Beyond the rosy potential opportunities within the region unfortunately one cannot avoid the sobering realities of the situation today half of West Africans live on less than $1.25 per day, 36.7% of children under 5 suffer from stunting; 28.3% are underweight (USAID). Since Agriculture employs 60% of the active labour force, this is an area that Sunu Agro believes is an ethical sector to focus on. This is very much a journey which however possible we wish to assist.