The virtual conference comes exactly one year after Jenna attended events as part of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London back in January 2020.
The conference was opened by The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, followed by introductions from James Duddridge MP (Minister for Africa, FCDO), Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Kt (Minister for Investment, DIT) and Emma Wade-Smith OBE (Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, DIT).
The event explored a number of themes including agriculture, agri-tech, sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy and financial/professional services, with a particular focus on Africa’s transition to a cleaner, greener economy, as well as supporting the recovery from COVID-19.
The agri-tech session was Chaired by Dr Elizabeth Warham (Lead of Agri-Tech Sector Team, DIT), who was joined by Michael Shaw (MD, Wellspring Development Capital Ltd), Yvonne Tweedle (MD, Jupiter Ltd), Cristabel Blanch (Sales Manager, Alvan Blanch) and Dr Christine Peacock CBE (Chair, Sidai Africa Ltd).
Michael Shaw opened the session with an overview of a recent study on mapping the UK capabilities relevant to the Ugandan market, as well as potential agri-tech opportunities. He specifically highlighted supply demand in crop-focused technology, crop protection, microbial inoculants, post-harvest storage, research and training, professional consultancy, information tools, financial services, as well as technologies in the livestock sector. He also outlined the need for long term vision and strategy, coordination with local partners, an understanding of local context and political economy, taking a regional approach and ensuring a comprehensive support package.
Yvonne Tweedle gave an overview of Jupiter Ltd, a fresh produce grower that specialises in cultivating grape and citrus, with operations in South Africa and Morocco, but also working with independent small-scale growers across Africa to ensure continual supply. This is achieved through access to their grower programme and global infrastructure.
Christabel Blanch showcased Alvan Blanch, a crop processing company covering activities such as grain drying, grading, feed milling, oilseed processing, fruit juice processing and farming. She gave examples of the challenges of working in West Africa, including language barriers, imports and price sensitivity, but also emphasised the vast opportunities within the region including new markets and products, opportunity for rapid business growth, and DIT and UKEF support.
Dr Christie Peackock CBE introduced Sidai, a UK company operating as an input distribution and services delivery company focused on herd health, including vaccines, feeds and hygiene, and spoke about addressing the three pillars: access, quality products and knowledge.
The session was concluded with a discussion panel chaired by Goncalo Neves-Correia (CEO, ThirdWay Africa), and input from Onyeka Akumah (CEO, Farmcrowdy Ltd), Samuel Dzotefe (Manager for Agribusiness and Forestry, IFC) and Venkataramani Srivathsan (CEO, Olam International Ltd), and covered topics including smallholder farming, access to finance, technology development and gender equality.
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