Developing the capacity of Africa’s private sector is key to fostering effective public-private partnerships

FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, Jocelyn Brown Hall
FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, Jocelyn Brown Hall

FAO, Stakeholders discuss guidelines for effective Public-Private Partnerships in Ghana’s agricultural sector

Access to finance is a pre-requisite for small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs) to engage in public private partnerships, but with investments in the agricultural sector being widely perceived as a high risk venture, coupled with reluctance of financial institutions to lend, there is the urgent need to deploy de-risking instruments for agricultural lending.

FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, Jocelyn Brown Hall, made this known, when she addressed policy makers, private sector entities and other stakeholders who convened in Accra to discuss how to improve the design, implementation and impact of Public-Private Partnerships in Ghana’s agricultural sector.

She observed that “Despite the enormous opportunities, Africa’s agricultural sector is less attractive to private sector investors due to an array of constraints including low volumes and inconsistent quality of produce, lack of business skills and limited access to domestic and regional markets.”

A Representative from African Union (AU), Komla Bissi, noted “African governments alone would not be able to implement their National Agricultural Investments Plans (NAIPs) as capital investments needed and the technical skills required to transform the agricultural sector would require private sector investment and expertise.”

In his Keynote Statement, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) thanked FAO and the African Union for facilitating the dialogue, which is expected to strengthen public private partnerships for sustained and accelerated development of the country’s agricultural sector.

“As part of Ghana’s agenda to transform the agricultural sector, a National Agricultural Sector Investment Plan for 2018 – 2021, dubbed “Investing for Food and Jobs’’ has been developed,” he added.

The two-day event formed part of efforts by the FAO and the Africa Union Commission (AUC) to support selected countries to facilitate public-private policy dialogues and help translate the African Union Country Agribusiness Partnership Framework (CAP-F) into an operational engagement mechanism with the private sector for increased agricultural investments.
Agribusiness linked to SDGs

Agribusiness and agro-industry development is critical in ensuring the development of sustainable and resilient food systems needed to deliver healthy diets to all, and to support sustainable poverty eradication in African.

“Agribusiness development is key in achieving a number of SDGs, including SDG 1 (poverty eradication), SDG2 (hunger, malnutrition and sustainable agriculture), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (infrastructure, industrialization and innovation) and SDG 12 (sustainable production and consumption),” Hall stated.

African Union facilitating private sector investment in agribusiness

The African Union has made a number of commitments, which focus on the engagement of the private sector for agribusiness development in Africa. These include the 2014 Malabo Declaration commitment to enhance investment finance in agriculture and facilitating the development of public private partnerships for strategic agricultural commodities, with linkages to smallholder farmers. The African Union Commission and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) have also developed the Country Agribusiness Partnership Framework (CAP-F), which is currently being rolled out in a number of countries to promote private sector investment in agriculture.

FAO addressing challenges and supporting the agricultural transformation agenda

FAO is providing policy guidance and capacity development in support of the development of sustainable and inclusive agribusiness development that will generate income and employment, improve food and nutrition security and contribute to inclusive economic growth. It is carrying out this task in partnership with national governments, the African Union Commission (AUC), NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Regional Economic Communities, civil society organizations and the private sector.]

In response to continuing increases in food and feed demand, population growth, rising incomes and urbanization for agricultural products, agriculture and agribusiness should be at the top of the agenda for Africa.

Agribusiness can play a critical role in jump-starting the continent’s economic transformation through the development of agro-based industries that would help boost economic development, reduce rural poverty, and offer nutritious food and much-needed jobs and incomes, especially for the 25 million young Africans who will enter the labour force each year.

Ghana’s Policy Framework

In Ghana, there are a number of policies and initiatives supporting agri-PPP development. Ghana has developed a PPP policy framework, which is being finalized. This policy provides an overarching framework for PPPs in Ghana but has a focus on infrastructure PPPs. There may be the need for specific policy directives and guidelines to facilitate agri-PPPs.
The country has also launched various initiatives to promote private sector investment in agriculture, including activities for the roll out of the Country Agribusiness Partnership Framework.

Already, there are successful examples of agri-PPPs, but more needs to be done in terms of distilling good practices and success factors and scaling these to achieve a broad-based transformation of the agricultural sector.


Effective cooperation between the public and private sectors and the forging of public-private partnerships are key in promoting ‘joined-up’ thinking that ensures policy and programmatic coherence. This in turn is instrumental in attracting the required investment, skills and technical know-how that will help to modernize the agriculture sector and deliver benefits that can contribute towards sustainable and inclusive agricultural development.

In this context, innovative partnerships that bring together business, government, smallholder farmers and civil society are increasingly being promoted as a mechanism to drive inclusive growth and transform the agricultural sector.

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