Telecommunications group, Econet, has partnered Yara International ASA as part of an initiative to inspire young African entrepreneurs to join the agriculture/food sector for its viable business opportunities.
The initiative, Generation Africa, will award US$100 000 to two exceptional business ventures in the sector and it will support a cohort of 12 potential young agri-food entrepreneurs to scale and prosper their ventures.
"Africa is full of entrepreneurs. We have more entrepreneurs than any other continent. But where the average age of an entrepreneur is 19, the average age of a farmer is 60!
"The time is now for Africa's entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and embrace the incredible opportunities that agri-food businesses offer.
"If we do not, someone else will," Econet founder and group chairman Strive Masiyiwa said in a statement.
Africa has about 600 million hectares of arable land, yet it imports food for US$35 billion a year and the figure is estimated to rise to US$100 billion by 2025. Africa has over 60% unemployed young people.
Yara president and chief executive, Svein Holsether said Africa's agri-food sector presented a business opportunity when connected with the current technology revolution.
"Africa's agri-food sector presents a US$ 1-trillion business opportunity by 2030, especially when connected with the current technology revolution. Across Africa's agri-food chain, innovations can be found in how we grow, harvest, process, store, transport, package, sell and consume food," Holsether said.
"Together with the pioneers of Africa's next generation, we want to seize these opportunities.
"Generation Africa will help youth entrepreneurs launch, grow and mature agri-food businesses that will drive job creation, inclusive growth, and better food supply."
Generation Africa's vision is to strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector across the continent and allow them to unlock untapped potential.
The partnership aims to inspire at least one million young people to consider the agri-food sector as a viable and profitable business opportunity through close collaboration with stakeholders across the continent to develop the entire ecosystem to support young entrepreneurs.