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How can digital technology help transform Africa’s food system?

Simeon Ehui's picture
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Photo: Dasan Bobo/World Bank
There’s no question that agriculture is critical to Africa’s biggest development goals. It is fundamental for poverty reduction, economic growth and environment sustainability. African food market continues to grow. It is estimated that African food markets will triple to US$1 trillion from its current US$300 billion value. Farming accounts for 60% of total employment in Sub-Saharan Africa—and food system jobs account for even more. In Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the food system is projected to add more jobs than the rest of the economy between 2010 and 2025.

And yet, Africa’s agriculture sector is facing serious challenges. Agricultural productivity in Africa lags behind other regions. One in four people in Sub-Saharan Africa are chronically undernourished. Africa’s food system is further strained by rapid population growth and climate change. The food security challenge will only grow as climate change intensifies, threatening crop and livestock production. If no adaptation occurs, production of maize—which is one of Africa’s staple crops—could decline by up to 40% by 2050. Clearly, business as usual approaches to agriculture in Africa aren’t fit for transforming the sector to meet its full potential.

Digital technology could be part of the solution. But how can digital technology help transform Africa’s food system?

It’s instructive to look at startups, which are an emerging force in Africa’s agriculture sector.

Technology can help spring workers from the informality trap

Kristalina Georgieva's picture
Women stitch handicrafts at Everest Fashion Fair Craft in Lalitpur, Nepal. © Peter Kapuscinski/World Bank
Women stitch handicrafts at Everest Fashion Fair Craft in Lalitpur, Nepal. © Peter Kapuscinski/World Bank

Technology and what it will do to change how we work is the driving obsession of the moment. The truth is that nobody knows for sure what will happen – the only certainty is uncertainty. How then should we plan for the jobs that don’t yet exist?
 
Our starting point is to deal with what we know – and the biggest challenge that the future of work faces – and has faced for decades – is the vast numbers of people who live day to day on casual labor, not knowing from one week to the next if they will have a job and unable to plan ahead, let alone months rather than years, for their children’s prosperity. We call this the informal economy – and as with so much pseudo-technical language which erects barriers, the phrase fails to convey the abject state of purgatory to which it condemns millions of workers and their families around the world.

The shape of water for development

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture

This post originally appeared on High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development website on July 9, 2018.
 

From July 9-18, more than 2,000 representatives from governments, businesses, civil society organizations and UN agencies gather for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. 


Water touches nearly every aspect of development. It flows through and connects the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by driving economic growth, supporting healthy ecosystems, cultivating food and energy production, and ensuring access to sanitation. We cannot achieve the SDGs without our collective action on water.

Weekly links July 13th....Friday the 13th

Markus Goldstein's picture
And here are the weekly links for your Friday the thirteenth:
  • Don't be afraid, we're just hiring:   DIME is looking for a field coordinator based in Peru, and two research assistants based in Washing (position one and two).  
  • Was that a whisper I heard?  Over at the CGD Blog, Sarah Rose goes hunting for signs of the use of evidence in RFPs from a large aid agency.   
  • Just don't look under the bed:  On Goats and Soda, a nice piece on Banerjee et. al's work on using postcards to reduce leakage from a huge social program in Indonesia.   
  • And should you really be afraid because it's the thirteenth?   Livescience debunks the odds that you'll be in the car wreck (British humor strikes again) and National Geographic explains why you need to leave the house...now.  So stop your triskaidekaphobia before you hurt yourself.  .
 

PPPs and agriculture: driving India beyond the Green Revolution

Aman Hans's picture



India’s agriculture sector—including animal husbandry, forestry, and fishing—has always been one of the country’s core economic sectors, accounting for about 16 percent of India’s GDP and employing nearly half of the working population. Although India has the second largest arable land pool in the world, agriculture is still mired by challenges such as low effective yield and underemployment. Underinvestment in agri-infrastructure, fragmented land holdings, and lack of knowledge and skills among farmers, are some of the key causes. These challenges in turn have aggravated issues like inflation, farmer distress and unrest, political and social disaffection—all of which have severe socioeconomic ripple effects on other sectors. This significantly curtails the ability of India’s economy to touch double-digit growth. 

Côte d'Ivoire: Ensuring that tomorrow comes

Jacques Morisset's picture
Photo: Mighty Earth


It is easy to be alarmed about climate change, and, unfortunately, with good reason.  Although experts cannot predict the future with certainty, they agree that Côte d’Ivoire will experience hotter temperatures and more variable, albeit more intense, rainfall, with masses of land being engulfed by rising sea levels. Deniers, the indifferent, or simply those who have little choice but to live in the present typically either advocate a wait-and-see approach or, at best, delayed action.

InsureTech for Development

Peter Wrede's picture

Ventures that promise to make insurance more fun with technology attract considerable attention and funding. In mature markets, that is. More than half of the $2.3 billion InsureTech funding in 2017 went to the US and the UK, where the average person spends more than $5,000 on insurance every year (that includes newborns). In a country like Bangladesh, by comparison, insurance premium per capita is $8, and this statistic fails to show that most people have no insurance at all, so that insurable events such as accidents end the progress out of poverty for too many. The obstacles that prevent these people from including insurance in their risk management toolkit are surprisingly similar to the obstacles that InsureTech wants to remove to better serve American Millennials. They include lack of trust in insurance companies and lack of understanding of insurance, but also the frustration caused by annoying processes (think filling long forms and waiting for mailed responses) and products that don’t fit. 

But there’s an app for that.

Remember to call your grandparents: Multigenerational mobility in the developing world

Daniel Mahler's picture

A large body of literature has shown that the outcomes of children are tied to the outcomes of their parents or, in other words, that children face different life prospects based on their family background. But there is no reason to believe that such “persistence” of outcomes is limited to two generations. Social mobility (or lack thereof) depends not just on how parents influence the outcomes of their children, but also on how outcomes persist across multiple generations, from grandparents to grandchildren.

GICA’s V2P2P: A helping hand in overcoming the challenges of developing connectivity infrastructure

Yin Yin Lam's picture



The task of preparing a viable, feasible, and sustainable infrastructure project can be a daunting one filled with many challenges. Throw in the need to incorporate an element of connectivity and the challenges only multiply in number and complexity. Indeed, during the annual meeting of the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance (GICA), held in January 2018 at the OECD headquarters in Paris, GICA members identified several of these challenges, including the need to share best practices, ensure robust project preparation, and address the financing gap.
 
While multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions (IFIs)—including GICA members Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the World Bank Group (WBG)—have the experience and financial or analytical tools to help, actually finding or accessing these resources can be difficult.
 
Is there a way to bridge this knowledge gap?

Family Planning: Investing in women’s health and empowerment to build human capital

Sameera Al Tuwaijri's picture



Investing in Universal Health Coverage (UHC) so that every person has access to quality, affordable health services is a critical step towards building a country’s human capital. And as part of UHC, every woman and child should be able to access quality health services at a price they can afford, and are able to use them when needed. This includes access to comprehensive reproductive, maternal, newborn child and adolescent health services, including family planning.  


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