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Advancing agribusiness in Sub-Saharan Africa through cloud based e-learning

Photo by Kate Holt/AusAID via Wikimedia.

Olive Sabila Chemutai tends to her tomatoes on her homestead in Kapseror Village, Kapchorwa, Uganda.

Photo by Kate Holt/AusAID via Wikimedia.

Africa is at an exciting point of development. Investment that happens now will shape the future of the continent. And investing in the young people has a potential to get a lot of things right. After all, it is them who will be living the future.

Most of the countries on the continent are agrarian economies and with the wealth of natural resources they have, it is only natural for them to choose to invest in agriculture. Meanwhile, an average African farmer is 55 and only 16% of youth in Sub-Saharan Africa have a ‘wage job’, while 62% work on family farms and 22% in household enterprises. Africa can leverage on its agriculture, but needs to monetize its natural wealth in a way that is sustainable, profitable and innovative. That is where agribusiness can really make a difference.

One of our Expert Groups focuses on the need to enhance and develop training in business management within the context of Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Agribusiness (Agripreneurship) across sub-Saharan Africa. This has a strategic fit with the Malabo Declaration (2014) which, amongst other commitments, looks to end hunger in Africa by 2025, the Feed Africa Strategy for Agricultural Transformation in Africa 2016 – 2025 of the African Development Bank, Agenda 2063 and the development of the Enable Youth programme, along with work within IITA Youth Agripreneurs and Universities.

Adopting a pragmatic, action orientated and evidence based approach which is also youth focused, this Expert Group will draw on skills, knowledge and expertise from non-profit, university and business sectors. The group will develop and pilot a cloud-based, blended learning educational course that will support young agripreneurs across Africa in development of their business ideas.

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture has established the Youth Agripreneur Programme and from this the African Development Bank has initiated the ENABLE Youth programme. These programmes aim to encourage and support young graduates across the continent to become entrepreneurs in agriculture and agribusiness, an activity that is increasingly being referred to as ‘Agripreneurship’. They focus on providing support, skills, knowledge and access to funds that enable the creation of viable businesses within the food system that can drive economic growth, create employment and nourish the people of Africa.

It has been identified that, while such programmes are effective in providing support and training in technical skills, there are few resources available that can be used to enhance the learning of essential business skills within the context of agribusiness. There is therefore an opportunity for this Expert Group to develop an online course with supporting materials, focused on early-stage business start-up within the context of agribusiness.