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Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu says Africa must cut reliance on food imports

Even with a new deal that may enable grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, the affect of elevated costs may nonetheless be extreme in Africa, which imports most of its meals, and the place the IMF forecasts inflation may attain as excessive as 12.2% this year.
Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu says it is time for African nations to work collectively to create a meals worth chain throughout the continent, and produce extra items for home consumption.

Rabiu is the CEO of BUA Group, a conglomerate in meals processing, infrastructure, manufacturing and mining. His firm has made investments throughout the continent to chop its reliance on imports from Europe and Asia.

He spoke with CNN’s Eleni Giokos final month on the Africa CEO Discussion board in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Excessive inflation, meals insecurity, power costs: What are you going to do to resolve a few of these points?

Rabiu: A part of the issue is that we import 80% of what we consume. For instance, Africa imported over 55 million tons of wheat final yr, and wheat is likely one of the commodities that has actually been hit laborious by way of excessive costs. Because the Ukrainian-Russian (battle) began, we have now seen a scenario the place the value (of wheat) bought from $250 to nearly $600 per ton. And you realize Africa depends closely on Russian and Ukrainian wheat.

So how is your enter being affected?

Rabiu: For those who import and the value is double, what do you do? It’s important to improve the costs. And lots of people can’t actually afford that. So we’re seeing a lower by way of manufacturing, processing and consumption, and that could be a huge difficulty. That’s the reason I preserve saying that we have now to look inwards, do as a lot as we will so as to add worth to what we have now. Now we have to extend (our) manufacturing for the meals safety of the continent.

You could have been within the pasta enterprise, for instance. Why have not you already gotten into farming? I do know wheat is troublesome to develop.

Rabiu: Wheat is troublesome to develop however we’re additionally into sugar and we’re constructing probably the most superior sugar plantation in Nigeria. It is a 20,000-hectare, four-in-one, totally built-in sugar plantation with sugar mill, sugar refinery, ethanol and energy plant. We determined to try this as a result of we realized we have been spending some huge cash to import uncooked sugar and that’s one thing that might be simply planted and produced in Nigeria. Our inputs so far as uncooked sugar is anxious will come down drastically.
The African Continental Free Trade Area went stay (in 2021). Have you ever seen an actual affect on your corporation?

Rabiu: The free commerce space is an incredible association. All of us want to come back collectively to get pleasure from the advantages. After all, we even have challenges so far as infrastructure is anxious, and for the settlement to succeed, it is advisable to repair your infrastructure house, particularly in areas like ports.

You continue to discover that difficult?

Rabiu: I provide you with an instance: it is costlier to ship items from Nigeria to, say, Lomè (in Togo, West Africa) than from Nigeria to Brazil. And that is as a result of we have now the vessels with out the ports. So these points are there and we have to repair our infrastructure.

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