News / Africa

Experts See Commodity Exchanges Key to African Revolution

Joseph Dzindwa, who has expanded from a one-hectare to an eight-hectare maize farm in the last few years, checks his hybrid maize crop in Catandica, Mozambique. (File Photo)
Joseph Dzindwa, who has expanded from a one-hectare to an eight-hectare maize farm in the last few years, checks his hybrid maize crop in Catandica, Mozambique. (File Photo)

Experts from 14 African countries are examining ways to encourage a market revolution that promises to boost incomes of the seven-out-of-10 Africans who make their living from agriculture. 

An information revolution is changing the face of African agriculture. From Tanzania to Ghana and Zambia to Ivory Coast, a move is on to connect rural farmers instantaneously to the information they need to sharply increase their incomes.

In Ethiopia, an automated data server providing real-time commodity prices received more than one-million calls last month. The data server has been an increasingly important tool for the country's farmers since the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange opened nearly three years ago.

ECX founder and chief executive Eleni Gabre-Madhin says access to price information allows farmers to maximize profits.

"If farmers can get the same information about the national market trends that well-established and endowed exporters and processing firms have, that changes how the game is played," said Gabre-Madhin. "The share of the final export price that now goes back to the farmer has gone up from something like 38 percent to close to 70 percent".

She says the commodity exchange is already doing 10 to 20 times more volume than stock exchanges in much more developed economies, such as Ghana and Tanzania.

Gabre-Madhin's brainchild is attracting worldwide interest, but no place greater than in Africa, where the vast majority of people earn their livelihood from agriculture.

Government ministers and experts from across the continent are in Addis Ababa this week to see if the Ethiopian model could work in their countries. The gathering is co-sponsored by the ECX and the U.N. development agency.

UNDP country representative Eugene Owusu says commodity exchanges are creating a silent revolution in Africa.

"When one looks at it through the lens of economic transformation and economic development," said Owusu. "I believe, that Africa as a continent is on the cusp of a transformation in development and there is a role for commodity exchanges in accelerating transformational development.

Owusu says his own country, Ghana, is sending a ministerial-level delegation to this week's meeting.  Also attending will be a group of farmers from Malawi who are in the process of setting up an exchange based on the Ethiopian model.

But Gabre-Madhin is already thinking of the next step, an exchange linking African exchanges to further improve market efficiencies.

"This is where we are headed in Africa. If you look at the backdrop of Africa's presence in the global market we have been losing ground," added Gabre-Madhin. "Africa's share of the global market has been declining during the past 20 years and our food import bill has been rising. So, if we think of how to harmonize, we will leverage each other's national markets to have a much stronger presence on the international market."

Gabre-Madhin envisions the day when reference markets for African products such as cocoa, now based in places like London and Chicago, will return to African nations like Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer.

This week's meeting is attracting a stellar crowd of African policymakers, as well as investors, development institutions, technology companies and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid