Uganda: Digital Transformation Initiative for Africa's Agri-Food Sector Unveiled

Microsoft's 4Afrika initiative and International Finance Corporation (IFC) have partnered and launched the Digital Transformation Initiative for Africa's Agri-food sector. The initiative will avail digital tools and training resources to small-scale farmers and agricultural-linked small businesses.

To kick start the initiative, a mobile platform will be piloted among farmers in Kenya, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, and Uganda and it is estimated that 50,000 farmers and 50 cooperatives will be the beneficiaries.

"Now more than ever, we need to pay close attention to how agri-tech organisations transform digitally, what challenges they face acquiring new technologies, and the daily challenges they may be facing in the area of digital skills development.

Microsoft 4Afrika's strategy is to invest in agri-tech to unlock Africa's vibrant potential, accelerating innovation in agri-tech to enable data-driven farming that can optimise yields, boost farm productivity and increase profitability - all while feeding a nation," said Kendi Nderitu, Country Manager for Microsoft Kenya.

Nderitu went on and said that the initiative is informed by the fact that digital technology can improve the operation of key supply chains in the food system through greater agricultural efficiencies, improved business practices, traceability, food safety and, access to finance. However, the use of digital tools in Africa's agriculture sector remains limited, often because of infrastructure, affordability, awareness, and regulatory issues. Agribusiness contributes about 25 percent of Africa's GDP and 70 percent of its employment.

Samuel Dzotefe, the acting Regional Industry Director, Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services, Middle East & Africa said that Digital technologies have the power to transform small-scale farming in Africa and by making digital tools more accessible to farmers, cooperatives, and last-mile retailers, Microsoft and IFC can together help the agribusiness sector to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by the digital economy. "Around 155 million people were facing acute food insecurity in 2020 across 55 countries or territories, an increase of around 20 million people from 2019, according to the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises. Of the 10 countries with the highest number of people facing food insecurity, six were in Africa" Dzotefe added.

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