Prior to gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola had a rich tradition of family-based farming and was self-sufficient in all major food crops, except wheat. But by the early 1990s, the Southern Africa country produced less than 1% of the volume it had produced two decades previously, while production of cotton, tobacco and sugar cane cased almost entirely. However, there is a lot of potential in Angola, with the agriculture sector set to benefit from multimillion- dollar investments.
Efforts to improve agriculture productivity in Angola and Lesotho has received a boost following the World Bank Board approval of a US$50 million project to increase the availability of agricultural technologies. This will be done under the ongoing World Bank financed Agriculture Productivity Program for Southern Africa (APPSA) involving three other countries in the region; Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
APPSA’s focus on agriculture technology addresses the need to improve the competitiveness and resilience of African agriculture using regional integration as a key mechanism to achieve higher rates of growth and poverty reduction. While agricultural productivity has increased in Southern Africa, Angola and Lesotho’s average yields are below the regional average. This project is expected to help narrow these gaps with additional investment in technology adaptation and dissemination.
“This project will help researchers, farmers, extension agents, input distributors and other end users in Angola and Lesotho to strengthen linkages between themselves and other participating countries,” said Mark Cackler, World Bank Agriculture Practice Manager.
“This is in line with the World Bank’s twin goal to reduce extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.”
The US$50 million World Bank financing comes from US$20 million of International Development Association (IDA) and US$25 million from International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). A total of US$5 million will also go towards the Center for Coordination for Agriculture in Southern Africa (CCARDESA) as a facilitating partner.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will invest US$200 million in 18 agricultural technology centres in Angola.
The investment, to be executed in around five to seven years, aims at training the staff of the agriculture and forestry sector and the peasants in techniques of production, processing and commercialisation of agricultural goods.
The project will be implemented in the country’s 18 provinces under a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Angolan Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Institute of Agrarian Development (IDA) and the Sheiki Ahmed Office Dalmjook Al Maktoum of the UAE.
In a first phase, the centres will be set up in the provinces of Bie, Huambo, Luanda and Bengo.
All technological centres will have laboratories to analyse the soils of the different provinces in order to assess the need for nutrients, since there will be a fertiliser mix processing structure to satisfy each region.
IDA director David Tunga said each province will have a major centre, while smaller centres will be set up at the level of some municipalities. The centres’ management will be under the responsibility of the investors and after consolidation, they will be delivered to the Government of Angola for autonomous management.
Angola has also joined forces with Vietnam to increase cooperation in agriculture and technology, as part of the ongoing economic diversification process in the country.
Nguyen Manh Cuong, at the end of a three-year diplomatic mission in the country, stressed that Angola needs to develop agriculture, taking into account the moment it lives in the ambit of diversifying its economy.
“The potential of Angola is immense and the positive changes that are taking place in can create a great opportunity for bilateral cooperation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ICT industry in Angola is set to be showcased at a special event in June. Called Angotic, the event aims to present technological tools that will try to solve health, education, agriculture, fisheries and other issues that produce immediate resolution in the life of society. During the three days, presentations will be made on various topics, such as the electronic economy, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, cybersecurity, Smart Cities, fake news, Big Data and tourism.
The ICT Forum 2019 will bring together 8,000 people and is a knowledge sharing and networking hub for government entities, industry players and emerging mobile service providers, as well as representatives from public and private enterprises in the telecommunications and information technology sectors.
It will take place at the Talatona Convention Center in Luanda from June 18 to 20, with registrations now open. For more information, visit the Angotic 2019 website here.