Africa’s Lack of Infrastructure and its Effect on the Agricultural Sector
It is no secret that the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential lies with addressing the severe infrastructure deficit. Specifically with regard to agriculture, the state of roads and storage facilities in Africa pose a significant hurdle for farmers. The dire state of the continent’s roads and storage facilities results in a substantial proportion of agricultural production never reaching the end user. The World Bank reported in 2011 that the amount of grains losses in sub-Saharan Africa amounts to US$4bn each year, which in turn is more than the amount of annual food aid received in the region and equivalent to the annual caloric requirement of 48 million people. The African Postharvest Losses Information system (APHLIS) estimates that between 10% and 23% of total cereal production goes to waste in Africa post-harvest. Of this, 2% – 5% is due to farm storage, 1% – 2% occurs during the transport to the market phase and a further 2% – 4% goes to waste in the market storage facilities. In fact, a study undertaken in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya in 2008, found that transport costs make up about 76% of total maize marketing costs. While the remainder of the losses typically occur on the farm level, the abovementioned areas present an opportunity for government to make a significant contribution by upgrading roads and establishing co-operative organisations which could result in better storage facilities. We expect the agricultural sector to be one of the main beneficiaries as the continent steps up infrastructure development over the medium to long term.