How Agricultural Technology Can Increase Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Alexander Ayertey Odonkor  and Emmanuel Amoah-Darkwah

Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural sector is based on a diverse range of terrains inhabited largely by smallholder farmers. The dominant agricultural sector accounts for an estimated 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product, as a recent study1 by McKinsey and Company reveals. The region has a population of 950 million, approximately 13% of the world total, and this is projected to increase to 2.1 billion by 2050, almost 22% of the global population, as indicated in an OECD-FAO2 report. More than 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farmers but the region’s full agricultural potential is yet to be exploited. Hunger is on the rise, with 22.8% of the population being undernourished. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicates that more than 90% of the 260 million hungry people in Africa in 2018 were in sub-Saharan Africa3.

More than 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farmers but the region’s full agricultural potential is yet to be exploited.

Although sub-Saharan Africa has more than 202 million hectares of uncultivated land4, which is more than the total cultivated area in America, the agriculture sector and other related industries in the United States are worth more than sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture sector. A report by the United States Department of Agriculture found that agriculture and other related industries accounted for $1.053 trillion, or 5.4% of the country’s gross domestic product in 20175, with the total output of farms accounting for $132.8 billion.

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About the Authors

Alexander Ayertey Odonkor is a chartered financial analyst and a chartered economist with a stellar expertise in the financial services industry in developing economies. He holds a Master of Science degree in Finance and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Finance. Alexander has completed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) programme on Financial Programming and Policies.

Emmanuel Amoah-Darkwah is a chartered economist with specialization in economic policy analysis and an ambassador for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Emmanuel’s work has been covered by the BBC, Bloomberg, CGTN, CNBC Africa and other major domestic news outlets in Africa.


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