Food security tops Equity’s Sh700bn agenda at Commonwealth forum


There is a need to focus on agricultural productivity not just by hailing the pride of owning the most productive lands but by making effort to ensure it is productive to cater to local feed needs. 

Speaking at the ongoing Commonwealth forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Equity Bank Group CEO James Mwangi said lenders are keen to ensure Africa limits food poverty in line with continental 2063 goals.

“To address issues of globalization and competitiveness in the trading market, there are 16 development banks which have partnered with Commonwealth to aid in financing local manufacturing and production,” Mwangi said.

Africa has 60 per cent of all arable land that can be converted to productive agricultural land.

He added that Equity Bank plans to facilitate and ensure that the rich mineral deposits in the country and other African countries are exploited up to the finished goods stage.

This is to counter the previous narrative of minerals being mined locally, exported, then finished goods imported back into the country.

The Commonwealth family is holding a three-day summit to discuss, partner and network to implement strategies in the course of achieving a common future.

The forum’s key initiatives are to empower the youth and women, emphasize on green energy economy and address financing strategies to investors and traders.

Commonwealth trade size is at $13 trillion with 60 per cent of its population being youths under 30 years.

Kenya’s youth make up 25 per cent of the country’s population, a great deal of consideration in current investment times.

According to Mwangi, the multidimensional approach to facilitating inclusivity should be adopted to include all the youths and women in all stages of business.

He added that plans to capacitate micro and medium enterprises for the youth and women will be on outlook too as the conjunction will see to it that knowledge provision, innovation, technology and science are made available to the target youth and women.

Mwangi took delegates representing 54 countries under Commonwealth through Equity Group’s Sh700 billion Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan.

To attain all these plans, a country has to be very environmentally friendly, therefore, Commonwealth has set down a plan to facilitate production and maintained the use of green energy with the assurance that its continued consumption will make it affordable.

“We are obsessed with the use of fossil fuel which poses a great threat to our ecosystem and our future generation entirely,” chairman Fortescue Metals Group, Andrew Forrest said.

He added that it is upon the continent to act quickly in adopting environment-safe energy, saying this path towards green energy is phenomenal.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are critical for the economic and social development of emerging markets.

They generate income and create the majority of jobs ranging between 70 and 95 per cent of new employment opportunities.

The report shows that SMEs in emerging markets face a trillion-dollar financing gap.

Leaders at the forum agreed that expansion of the SME sector is critical in boosting employment and reducing poverty in low-income countries.

The SMEs, however, are faced with many challenges in emerging markets, top on the list is a severe lack of access to finance, which greatly limits their ability to invest and grow.

In this journey, women entrepreneurs are poised to transform their local economies and contribute significantly to the global economy.

However, they face numerous challenges in accessing markets, financing, owning and growing a business.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) in conjunction with Commonwealth have special funding for SMEs in Africa which will be crucial in boosting African countries’ economy.

The IFC recently acquired a 6.71 per cent stake in Equity Group, becoming the lender’s second-largest shareholder.

All the networking and partnering that come with Commonwealth is meant to ensure all African countries contribute immensely to Commonwealth’s GDP contribution.

The combined GDP of Commonwealth countries is around $13 trillion and is expected to reach $19.5trillion in 2027.

Intra-Commonwealth trade is expected to hit $2 trillion by 2030 majorly through an improvement in exports.

The trade exports surpassed the threshold of $700 billion in 2019 and rebounded in 2021 to an estimate of $768 billion, which is expected to grow past $1 trillion by 2026.

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