In an official statement by the vice-president of agriculture, human and social development at the African Development Bank, Jennifer Blanke, it was made clear that the growth and development of the African continent as a whole is largely dependent on the political and economical stability of Nigeria and South Africa. She brought forward multiple points regarding the situation during her interview with Business Day in Davos, Switzerland a while back.
The Last Frontier
As the vice-president explains, many companies are interested in Africa right now, with the focus being on South Africa and Nigeria. However, the fact that the two nations are always at the centre of attention when it comes to prospects in the continent has also put a tremendous amount of pressure on them to maintain political stability both internally and externally. She even goes on to add that new businesses are looking at Africa as “the exciting last frontier” now.
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In spite of the scope for an agricultural boom, the two major economies within the continent have unfortunately shown financial depreciation in 2016, which has been cited as a major cause for concern by Blanke. The economic growth in Nigeria had actually declined by 1.51% in 2016. Considering that this has happened for the first time since the year 1991, Blanke’s concerns regarding stability in the region seem well founded. South Africa on the other hand, barely managed to avoid a recession with a GDP growth of 0.3% last year, which is another reason for alarm. Blanke explains that if SA and Nigeria fail to be the examples of success that the sub-Saharan Africa needs in order to develop and thrive, growth in the entire continent will be severely stunted. Both nations are under constant pressure as everyone is looking forward to Nigeria and South Africa for bringing progress and growth into Africa, while becoming major global markets themselves in the process.
Agriculture has always been one of the major industries for Africa in general and the African Development Bank is betting on that fact by making significant investments in the sector. Jennifer Blanke specified a time period of ten years in respect to seeing Africa becoming a major agricultural supplier, thanks mainly to the natural resources in the region. This applies particularly to Nigeria, especially since The World Bank has just approved a $200 million loan to support the growth of the agricultural industry in the country. SA on the other hand, is currently dealing with a major armyworm invasion in their farm lands. However, Blanke doesn’t seem to regard the pest problem as a cause for concern. She assures that when it comes to South Africa, it’s more about high quality food processing than raw agricultural production. South Africa is expected to maintain the same standard that it has managed to reach in terms of both quality and quantity, while expanding out to explore new commercial opportunities.
As is evident from the disappointing financial decline seen last year, both South Africa and Nigeria are currently suffering from the effects of political instability in the region. Major businesses are turning towards Africa to scan and see if it’s worth making investments in the area. This is what makes right now the time to grab some of the opportunities that are presenting themselves. It is imperative that the local governments realise that fact and create a favourable condition for that to happen.