AFRICAN UNION UNION AFRICAINE
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA P. O. Box 3243 Telephone : 011-551 7700 Fax : 011-551
website : www. africa-union.org
H.E. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissionner,
Rural Economy and Agriculture,
African Union Commission
on the occasion of
the Second Edition of the Annual Forum ;
« Italy and Africa Partners in Business
1-2 July 2010, Rome, Italy.
Honorable Minister of Agriculture of Italy,
Excellency, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to, first of all, bring greetings and best wishes from H.E Dr. Jean Ping,
Chairperson of the African Union Commission who would have wished to be here
with us had it not been for other official exigencies which he was unable to
reschedule. On my part, it is a pleasure and privilege to address you during this
important Forum. The meeting affords me a chance to express the deep
appreciation of the Commission to Prime Minister- His Excellency Silvio
BERLUSCONI for Italy’s long term and continued commitment and support to
the African cause in economic development in the context of the Italian Africa
Plan. I wish to also thank the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian
Ministry for Economic Development, as well as SIMEST for the excellent
arrangements for this Forum. The African Union appreciates the multi-facetted
cooperation and support with Italy in all the pillars of peace and security, good
governance, institutional capacity building, regional integration and shared values.
We also recognize and applaud the role of Italy in the European Union with which
the African Union interfaces with in the framework of the Strategic Partnership.
The priorities identified for this Forum, notably infrastructure, agriculture and
energy are in line with the pursuits of the African Union. Indeed, H.E Prof. Bingu
wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, has singled out the following
priorities for his mandate as the current Chairman of the African Union in 2010:
that is, peace and security, food security, energy and infrastructure.
For the African Union, the recently concluded Agriculture, Agribusiness and Agro-
industries Development Initiative endorsed in Abuja in March this year fits very
well with the deliberations at this Forum. The initiative focuses inter-alia on the
development of rural infrastructure, technology, land management and water
technology systems. It also emphasizes the importance of increased private public
sector investments and partnerships among farmers and agribusiness in a value-
chain approach. The AUC is collaborating with UNIDO, FAO, IFAD, AfDB and
ECA, in taking this forward.
Although African Agriculture has not been doing well over the years, the high
potential it has provides a good opportunity for investment, high rates of return,
food and nutrition as well as socio-economic development. There is need to
stimulate small-holder farmers. There is need to complete the entire value chain
with agribusiness. This is where we would like to see Italy coming in drawing from
its own experience which started with cottage industries and built on that to make
the current impressive economy based on agro-industries.
Of recent, the prices of agricultural commodities are high. This has generated the
much-needed interest for increasing investment in agriculture, which is positive
and beneficial especially for agro-processing. This is, therefore, an opportune time
for Italy to step up its interventions in Africa.
Excellencies, invited guests,
In order to ensure agricultural production, productivity, food and nutrition security,
as well as to provide the required enabling environment, the African Heads of State
and Government adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development
Program (CAADP) – just like the European Union has th Common Agricultural
policy - that has the objective to address the various constraints facing Africa’s
agriculture and to develop and implement policies, programs and activities to boost
agricultural production and productivity at national and regional levels. The pillars
of CAADP are cross-cutting, and can be summarized as follows:
i. Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water
ii. Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access;
iii. Increasing food supply, reducing hunger, enhancing risk management and
improving emergency response;
iv. Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption.
Our discussions at this Forum fall under pillar ii on improving rural infrastructure
and trade-related capacities for market access. This is also the Pillar on which the
African Agri-business and Agro-industries Initiative, I mentioned earlier, is based.
As part of the momentum building up in Africa, a reasonably high number of
countries have accelerated the implementation of CAADP by preparing country
investment plans and scaling up their budgetary allocations to the agricultural
sector. This is also related to the global response on the food crisis. The G-8 July
2009 Summit in L’Aquila that set the pace for the Global Agriculture and Food
Security Programme (GAFSP) gives a boost to the momentum on the African
continent. Here, the Government of Italy is applauded for its role in the
conceptualization and commitment to the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative.
The Italian Africa Plan could work within the framework and processes of
Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to drive
the agribusiness and agro-processing. It could also build on the commitments of
the Development of Agribusiness and Agro-Industries in Africa. The African
Union Commission appreciates the invitation from the Italian Government and the
move to engage Africa directly as one of its principal partners.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the challenges for agribusiness and
agro-industries in Africa cannot be viewed in isolation but within the context of a
complex agricultural innovative system to provide a springboard for agricultural
production, marketing and agro-processing.
I would like to single out modern technologies which are crucial for both cottage
industries and medium-scale entities. This calls for public private partnership and
putting in place appropriate policies and regulatory infrastructure for ensuring
compliance with quality and standards to complete the value chain system and
enhance market access. Here, the role of both African governments and the Italian
government is critical in playing a facilitating role and providing an enabling
environment for the private sector.
The leadership of the African continent is fully supportive of ensuring that African
agriculture is developed. This has been highlighted African Heads of State and
Government in a number of meetings which take place regularly. For example, at
the recent AU Summit, H.E Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika, President of the Republic
of Malawi, who is current Chairman of the African Union, did single out among
the key priorities, the pursuit of food security as a five year commitment.
Excellencies, invited guests,
In relation to food safety, African agro-investors have experienced technical
challenges to comply with international standards which demand rigorous and
expensive assessment especially with regard to laboratories for accreditation.
African countries need support-both technical and financial to meet these
requirements. For Africa, the challenge is to generate growth, become competitive,
and take charge of its own future.
At the political level, the African Union Commission is aware that measures aimed
at improving trade and investment climate in Africa relate to the promotion of
good political and economic governance. There is increasing commitment of
African countries to participatory and multiparty democracy, rule of law, respect
for human rights, transparency and accountability, and supportive institutions.
Programs of economic reforms; developing the liberalization of trade, exchange
rates, and financial markets; greater role for the private sector in the economy,
improvement of the legal and regulatory frameworks to support and safeguard
investment; trade facilitation and improvement of customs procedures; greater
efficiency in the mobilization, allocation and utilization of resources; have been
adopted by several African countries and have contributed to the enhancement of
the ease of doing business in the continent. The trade and investment climate in
Africa is now more favorable than is generally perceived.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The key message I would like to convey to distinguished participants at this Forum
is that, although it remains the worst affected with poverty, Africa has
opportunities for mutually beneficial trade and investment. It has a large and
growing population as the Honourable Minister of Agriculture of Italy just said.
Efforts are being intensified by the African Union and its building blocks, the
Regional Economic Communities to accelerate the pace of regional integration and
the establishment of a Pan-African Common Market in which goods, capital and
people will move freely between countries. Rates of return on investment on the
continent are among the highest in the world.
To conclude, Africa welcomes the Italian Government’s gesture and call for
partnerships. For us at the African Union Commission, we see Africa as one
continent and we would like all of you to se Africa as one entity. We encourage a
courtship that brings value in the transactions on both ends of the deal, between the
Italian companies and businesses and private sector and the African partners and
counterparts. Our investors rightly deserve financial rewards commensurate with
their input while the communities providing the natural resources or raw materials
must also retain their right to continue enjoying the goodness of the land. This
means putting in place for investors’ codes of practice that respect the highest
standards for operational excellence as well as business ethics; codes that have
products with supply competitiveness, demand conformity and market
I wish to call upon Italian public and private partners to step up cooperation with
Africa in some of the following areas:
i. Agri-business development through storage, packaging, standardizing and,
above all, agro-processing through joint venture;
ii. Technology transfer;
iii. Post-harvest handling and marketing infrastructure;
iv. Local capacity building through on-the-job training and apprenticeship;
v. Enhancing risk management mechanisms to protect our investments in
agriculture from recurring, predictable weather shocks.
Also, given that the African Union has put in place guidelines and a code of
conduct for investing on land, we would like to see joint ventures for enhanced
agricultural production which promote a win-win situation for local and foreign
I welcome the proposed partnerships between Italian states and African regions on
mutual basis, the proposed project of Master in Business Internationalization for
post graduate students, and the Roundtable conferences on Italy –Africa partners in
Business as a way forward to bring anticipated benefits to our two economies in
furtherance of our mutually-beneficial engagements. I look forward to “Made in
Africa in exchange for Made in Italy”.
I thank you for your attention.