Increased productivity vital to address Africa’s rapid population growth, urbanization: UNECA

By Xinhua
On 22 November 2023 at 09:09

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Tuesday called on African countries to embrace digitization, enhanced intra-Africa trade and better land-policy systems to address the demands of rapid population growth and urbanization in Africa.

"With population growth and rapid urbanization, the food industry will continue to grow in the coming years. Investing in the capacity of farmers to increase production will be vital," said Claver Gatete, Executive Secretary of the UNECA, in a statement at the fifth edition of the Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA).

On the theme of "Promoting Sustainable Land Governance in Africa for Accelerating Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA)," the high-level conference runs from Nov. 21-24 at the African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

The UNECA chief underscored the importance of investing in research institutions to develop models of appropriate and sustainable agro-processing, technological innovations and implementation of land and agriculture policies.

"Inclusive digital technologies can support land and trade policy-making processes through data driven decision-making. They can identify opportunities for reform, job creation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and food needs," he said.

The UNECA chief said the AfCFTA, if well implemented, holds the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, boost Africa’s income by 450 billion U.S. dollars, while connecting 1.3 billion people.

Noting that Africa is committed to agro-industrialization for value addition and economic diversification, he said the youth can "tap into the growing agriculture and agribusiness sector, projected to be 1 trillion U.S. dollars by 2030."

The UNECA chief regarded sound land governance systems as essential to promoting secure access to land and creating an enabling environment for investments to unlock the productive capacities of Africa.

"Good land governance will support agro-industrial parks, infrastructure and renewable energy, all needed ingredients for industrialization and trade," Gatete said.

He further called for concerted efforts in seeking solutions that impact the livelihoods of youth, women and smallholder producers, which he said constitute Africa’s largest private sector and an integral part of the continent’s quest to find climate smart solutions.

This conference is organized biennially by the African Land Policy Centre, which is a joint initiative of the UNECA, the AU, and the African Development Bank.