Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu says Africa must cut reliance on food imports

Even with a brand new deal that might enable grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, the impression of elevated costs might nonetheless be extreme in Africa, which imports most of its meals, and the place the IMF forecasts inflation might attain as excessive as 12.2% this yr.
Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu says it is time for African international locations to work collectively to create a meals worth chain throughout the continent, and produce extra items for home consumption.

Rabiu is the CEO of BUA Group, a conglomerate in meals processing, infrastructure, manufacturing and mining. His firm has made investments throughout the continent to chop its reliance on imports from Europe and Asia.

He spoke with CNN’s Eleni Giokos final month on the Africa CEO Discussion board in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Excessive inflation, meals insecurity, vitality costs: What are you going to do to resolve a few of these points?

Rabiu: A part of the issue is that we import 80% of what we eat. For instance, Africa imported over 55 million tons of wheat final yr, and wheat is among the commodities that has actually been hit onerous when it comes to excessive costs. Because the Ukrainian-Russian (battle) began, we have now seen a state of affairs the place the worth (of wheat) bought from $250 to virtually $600 per ton. And you recognize Africa depends closely on Russian and Ukrainian wheat.

So how is your enter being affected?

Rabiu: In case you import and the worth is double, what do you do? You need to improve the costs. And lots of people can’t actually afford that. So we’re seeing a lower when it comes to manufacturing, processing and consumption, and that could be a massive subject. That’s the reason I hold saying that we have now to look inwards, do as a lot as we will so as to add worth to what we have now. Now we have to extend (our) manufacturing for the meals safety of the continent.

You’ve got been within the pasta enterprise, for instance. Why have not you already gotten into farming? I do know wheat is tough to develop.

Rabiu: Wheat is tough to develop however we’re additionally into sugar and we’re constructing essentially the most superior sugar plantation in Nigeria. It is a 20,000-hectare, four-in-one, absolutely built-in sugar plantation with sugar mill, sugar refinery, ethanol and energy plant. We determined to do this as a result of we realized we had been spending some huge cash to import uncooked sugar and that’s one thing that could possibly be simply planted and produced in Nigeria. Our inputs so far as uncooked sugar is worried will come down drastically.
Now for the hard part, says Secretary General of African Continental Free Trade Area
The African Continental Free Commerce Space went reside (in 2021). Have you ever seen an actual impression on your corporation?

Rabiu: The free commerce space is a tremendous association. All of us want to come back collectively to take pleasure in the advantages. In fact, we even have challenges so far as infrastructure is worried, and for the settlement to succeed, you’ll want to repair your infrastructure area, particularly in areas like ports.

You continue to discover that difficult?

Rabiu: I provide you with an instance: it is dearer to ship items from Nigeria to, say, Lomè (in Togo, West Africa) than from Nigeria to Brazil. And that is as a result of we have now the vessels with out the ports. So these points are there and we have to repair our infrastructure.

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