The combined impact of Covid-19 and war in Ukraine has wreaked unprecedented disruption on global supply chains, and sharply increased the need for both short and long-term solutions to Africa’s food and fertilizer needs. African institutions have a responsibility to intervene in the agricultural input sector to ensure the security and viability of our continent’s vital food supply and agribusiness sector.
Moreover, the Bank’s discussions with large agro dealers in the region confirm the urgent need to address constraints which hamper supply and, by extension, Africa’s agricultural productivity.
It is against this backdrop, therefore, that in December of 2022 the Bank’s Export Development Department co-sponsored and co-organised a workshop with the West African Fertilizer Association (WAFA), as part of a proposed Trade Credit Guarantee initiative. The workshop’s overarching goal was to improve WAFA members’ understanding of the Bank’s suite of products available to de-risk and facilitate the fertilizer trade in Africa.
The West African Fertilizer Association (WAFA) exists as a platform by which regional actors can, collectively, improve the availability and affordability of fertilizers within the region and, in so doing, enhance food and agricultural production – as well as security of supply.
The workshop – which formed part of a three-day event – provided an opportunity to engage over 100 delegates hailing from leading fertilizer companies from across West Africa, development finance institutions, technical development partners and public sector representatives. Central to the workshop’s agenda was the attainment of food security in the region by improving producers’ access to fertilizers. Furthermore, the event enabled the Bank to identify and onboard new Traders, Sellers, and Buyers from WAFA members to the African Trade Exchange (ATEX).
As well as a response to the macro-economic and political headwinds which have severely disrupted global supply chains and agricultural commodities markets, the workshop was timed so as to set the stage for exploring possible collaborations ahead of the 2023 agricultural season (for which planting starts in February).
Workshop participants were taken through Afreximbank’s various initiatives, products and programmes that directly and indirectly support the fertilizer sector. Following the event, a number of deals, with a combined value of over USD 200 million, are being explored through the credit value chain. Moreover, participants voiced support for continued joint efforts by the Bank and WAFA to aggregate demand from smaller actors in the same country or region – thereby capitalising on better supply and financing conditions.
The success of the workshop, as well as the clear alignment of Afreximbank and WAFA’s regional goals, signals the beginning of a potentially fruitful collaboration between the parties. Indeed, follow up engagements with WAFA to encourage its entire membership to onboard unto ATEX are ongoing. Further to this, the Bank is negotiating a collaboration agreement with ATEX that would encompass both financing and non-financing solutions. By leveraging WAFA, the Bank expects to mobilise its membership to participate in the Intra-African Trade Fair 2023, as well as the Buyers programme.
The Bank is grateful to WAFA for its co-operation on the workshop, and also extends its thanks to key participants such as the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC), the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), the ECOWAS Commission, OCP Africa and Nigeria’s Presidential Fertilizer Initiative.
Africa has the capacity to provide itself, and the world, agricultural produce which can support a growing global population. But in order to achieve this aim – and the economic benefits which accompany it – the continent must ensure that land is cultivated effectively and in line with modern best practice. Fertilizer is the lynchpin in this aspiration.
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