Brussels Briefing 48: “Strengthening rural livelihoods in the face of rapid urbanisation in Africa”

The Brussels Development Briefing no. 48 on “Strengthening rural livelihoods in the face of rapid urbanisation in Africa” took place on 20th March 2017 from 14:00 to 18:00, at the ACP Secretariat (Avenue Georges Henri 451, 1200 Brussels, Room C). This Briefing was co-organised by CTA, BMZ/GIZ, the ACP Secretariat, European Commission (DG DEVCO) and Concord .

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Rural areas in many African countries are undergoing manifest transformation processes fuelled by dynamics such a population growth, urbanisation and increasing mobility. The relationship between rural and urban areas is changing and the rural-urban divide is fading, with increasing flows of people, goods and services between the two and the emergence of new migratory and livelihoods patterns. Next to the growth of capital and major cities, much of the urbanization witnessed in African countries has taken place in the continuum of rural areas with villages, towns and smaller cities below 500,000 inhabitants, fuelled in part by better infrastructure and digital connectivity as well as the search for economic opportunity. Rural towns and smaller cities have the potential to invigorate rural areas in their function as market hubs and basic service provision. Yet fulfilling such functions requires considerable investment and local institutional capacity as well as clear political commitment.  Strengthening rural-urban linkages in terms of infrastructure, transport, market access and exchange of information, ideas and innovation can catalyse economic development in rural areas and provide future perspectives for rural population and especially youth. Rural development strategies should therefore consider some of the following opportunities:

  • New income-generating opportunities in food systems as a result of changing urban consumption patterns
  • Investing in towns and intermediary cities as hubs for economic growth and service delivery for rural areas
  • Boosting agricultural productivity and attracting youth to farming
  • Supporting job creation in the rural non-farm economy and enabling diversified and multi-local livelihood strategies

NEWon Rural-Urban Linkages


Programme and Background Note




Biodata of the speakers 


Press & Media:
– OECD SWAC article “Brussels Briefing: Rural-urban links” (2017)

More info:

– Spore interview with Dimakatso (Nono) Sekhoto: From finance to farming (2017)
– CTA interview with Steve Wiggins Rural-urban links – opportunities for farmers (2017)
– Brussels Briefing 24:  Major drivers for rural transformation in Africa (2011)
– Spore Magazine No. 180 The Connected Farmer: A new opportunity for the agricultural system (2016)
– Spore Magazine No. 176 Marketing and packaging: the retail revolution (2015)
– ICT Update Issue 77 Linking farmers to Markets (2014)
– Spore Magazine No. 157 Urban Agriculture: City farmers (2012)


13h00-14h00 Registration and light Lunch
14h00-14h30 Introduction of the Briefing Isolina Boto, Manager, CTA Brussels Office  [video]

Introductory remarks: Olusola Ojo, Expert Sustainable Economic Development and Trade, ACP Secretariat [video]; Annelene Bremer, Senior Policy Officer, Rural Development, Land Rights, Forestry, BMZ [info|video]; Michael Hailu, Director, CTA [video]

14h30-16h00 Panel 1: Potential of closer rural-urban linkages for rural transformation and job creation
Chair: Michael Hailu, Director, CTA
– Fostering Rural-Urban links and the implications for the rural economy
Steve Wiggins, Senior Researcher, ODI [presentation|video]

– Employment opportunities in West African food systems
Thomas Allen, Economist, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat, OECD SWAC [presentation|video]

– Agri-Business-Led Employment for Youth in African Agriculture: new opportunities
Edson Mpyisi, Principal Agricultural Economist, Coordinator, Agropoles and Agro-Industrial Parks, Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department, African Development Bank Group  [presentation|video]

– Applying a territorial lens to rural development: West Kenya portfolio
Petra Jacobi, Project Manager, GIZ  [presentation|video]

Questions and Answers panel 1 [video]

16h00-16h15 Coffee Break

16h15-18h00 Panel 2: Creating opportunities for rural youth in transforming food systems
Chair: H.E. Mr Amadou Diop, Ambassador of Senegal to the EU
– Fostering employment through territorial development
Denis Pesche, sociologist at CIRAD and member of the Research Unit ART-Dev “Actors, Resources and Territories in Development’ (Montpellier University)  [presentation|video]

– Opportunities for young entrepreneurs in serving urban or semi-urban markets
Nono Dimakatso Sekhoto, African Farmers’ Association of South Africa  [presentation|video]

– Adding value to local products for urban markets
Omar Ouedraogo, Fédération des professionnels agricoles du Burkina (FEPAB)  [presentation|video]

Questions and Answers panel 2 [video]

Closing remarks
H.E. Mr Amadou Diop, Ambassador of Senegal to the EU [video]
Michael Hailu, Director, CTA [video]

Brussels Briefing 48: Rural – Urban linkages in Africa

Brussels Briefing 48: Rural – Urban linkages in Africa
Opportunities for inclusive economic growth and agricultural transformation

Experts and policymakers will discuss “Strengthening rural livelihoods in the face of rapid urbanisation in Africa” at the 48th Brussels Development Briefing on Monday 20th March 2017, organised by CTA with BMZ/GIZ, the European Commission – DG DEVCO, Concord and the ACP Secretariat. This event will explore best practices, successful approaches and public and private sector opportunities that respond to the urgent need to transform Africa’s rural economies to increase productivity and create employment in the context of increasing urbanisation and changes to patterns in food consumption.

Urban scenes in Accra market. Image:  K. Pratt / FAO

It is estimated that by 2050, Africa will see its population double to 2.2 billion people, with the proportion of Africans living in rural areas falling to only 43%, down from 61% in 2010. However, the absolute number of people living in rural areas will actually increase from 622 million to 927 million (Proctor and Lucchesi). Only 10% of Africans are in formal employment, and the clear majority of labour in Africa is still informal, and particularly concentrated in the agricultural sector. Farming is the source of 60% to 80% of rural incomes, with the share of non-farm income gaining in importance. There are only 3 million formal jobs available for the 10 to 12 million African youth entering the workforce each year, and two thirds of the labour force increase over the next 20 years is projected to occur in rural areas.

The growing significance of cities and the fading rural-urban divide should not be a reason or a pretext to neglect our rural areas. They require just as much ongoing attention from policy-makers as our urban centres, for a multitude of reasons,” said Stefan Schmitz, Commissioner for the One World – No Hunger initiative at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

This presents a challenge on three fronts: first, how to meet the demand for jobs and income generating opportunities, especially for youth in rural and peri-urban areas; second, how to speed up the transformation of agricultural production in Africa in response to this urban expansion and dietary changes among the growing middle class; and third, how to ensure that this demographic transition results in inclusive and sustainable development for both rural and urban areas, which reinforces productive linkages across key sectors – agriculture, services and manufacturing. These issues are especially relevant in the context of the global Agenda 2030, which calls on all development stakeholders, including the private sector, to contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals that ensure food and nutrition security (SDG2), inclusive growth and decent productive work (SDG8) and sustainable cities and communities (SDG11).

Opportunities to scale up on-going efforts towards structural transformation in Africa (e.g. CAADP, Agenda 2063) through more efficient, productive and inclusive urban-rural linkages are abundant. This Briefing presents a good opportunity to draw on lessons learnt and to identify factors for success in approaches which have produced positive results. The widespread use of new technologies – particularly ICTs including mobile phones – is a good example. Rural areas have benefited from a growth in non-farm incomes, smart innovations and greater connectivity with markets through digital platforms. CTA has been actively working to promote ICT innovations for agriculture, especially by identifying and encouraging talented young ICT entrepreneurs to engage in agriculture.

 “The greatest opportunity for transforming African agriculture into a highly productive and profitable sector that creates value for smallholder producers and jobs for young people will come from establishing strong rural-urban linkages essential to meet the rapidly growing demand of urban consumers for fresh and processed foods,” said Michael Hailu, Director of CTA.

Infographic:  SPORE Magazine No. 176 Marketing and packaging: the retail revolution

Another key development has been the recognition by policymakers across Africa and internationally about the need to promote private sector participation to catalyse rural transformation and develop inclusive value chains. In this context, the African Development Bank, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank have launched financing mechanisms which seek to reduce the risk of private investment in the agricultural sector in Africa. These include programmes that leverage finance in a way that encourages private sector development in Africa, particularly for micro- and small and medium sized enterprises and youth entrepreneurs, and others which establish public-private partnerships that aim to tackle bigger structural issues, including poor infrastructure, access to energy and access to finance.

The transformation will be driven by the investment decisions taken by millions of private-sector stakeholders: small farmers, input providers, food processing firms, distributors, financial service companies, craft and trade enterprises, and many others. However, the pace and composition of this private investment will depend on the enabling environment created by governments,” said Stefan Schmitz, Commissioner for the One World – No Hunger initiative, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

This Briefing discuss latest trends in research, the dynamics driving demographic shifts, the key policy responses seeking to mitigate risks and promote sustainable rural growth, and the innovative approaches of the private sector, producers and youth entrepreneurs capturing the gains that rural-urban linkages present.

Registration is now open for the Briefing, which will take place at the ACP Secretariat (Avenue Georges Henri 451, 1200 Brussels, Room C):

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Brussels Briefing 47: Regional Trade in Africa: Drivers, Trends and Opportunities

Experts at the 47th Brussels Development Briefing on the topic of “Regional Trade in Africa: Drivers, Trends and Opportunities” all agreed that Africa’s largest market opportunity lies within the continent. The event, which was held at the ACP Secretariat on Friday 3 February 2017 attracted an audience of close to 200 people, who joined the organisers to discuss the progress made in integrating Africa’s regional markets, and to explore suggestions for overcoming barriers to intra-African trade. Key findings from the African Agricultural Trade Status Report (AAFTR) 2017 by CTA and IFPRI were also presented at the Briefing. The event was co-organised by CTA, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the European Commission / DEVCO, the ACP Secretariat, and CONCORD.

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“When you come to look at intra-African trade, you can see the contrast between raw products exports to the rest of the world, and greater value added exports within Africa” said keynote speaker Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, who weighed in on some of the most topical issues that are facing the continent’s trade landscape. Given the uncertain economic climate of Africa’s major international export destinations, Dr Kituyi was keen to emphasise the resilience that African economies can develop through enhanced intra and inter-regional trade.

The potential of intra-African trade to deliver greater value addition and productivity for the agricultural sector was repeated by a number of the distinguished panellists. However, in order for this to be realised, the scale, diversity and fluidity of cross-border transactions has to be significantly augmented.

In his presentation on trends in Africa’s regional trade, Dr Ousmane Badiane, Director for Africa at IFPRI noted that in terms of agricultural products, although African countries are the destination of only 20% of African exports, there has been a notable increase in the competitiveness of its regional markets, which augurs well for domestic agribusiness. This is on top of the opportunities arising from changes in demand and consumption due to the demographic transitions Africa faces. For example, the most rapid growth in intra-regional agricultural trade West Africa has been higher-value goods such as fish and animal products as well as vegetables and food oils.

Various recommendations on easing cross border trade were shared by the panellists, including Dr Badiane who argued that removal of “harassment costs” would have the biggest effect on intra-regional trade. This was echoed by Annette Mutaawe who demonstrated a number of initiatives supported by TradeMark East Africa to achieve just that. These include technology innovations, such as a mobile phone platform which allows women small scale producers to access available trucks to take their goods to market. This comes in addition to support for East African government agencies dealing with customs and transportation in order to streamline procedures, reduce costs and delays in moving goods across borders.

annette mutaawe“Agriculture produce is perishable – if you’re not able to take it through the borders quickly, that’s a huge problem. We found that there is a huge opportunity for women entrepreneurs to do business”.
Annette Mutaawe, TradeMark East Africa

Access to finance remains a predominant concern for Africa’s farmers, agribusinesses and small and medium enterprises, as well as for governments to fund large infrastructure-related projects that could ease the costs of trade between countries. It is in this context that Ishmael Sunga, CEO of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and Nana Osei-Bonsu CEO of Ghana’s the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) gave examples of successful PPPs – both public-private partnerships and private-private partnerships – as a way for producers to strengthen their presence in the marketplace and their negotiating power vis-à-vis other players in the value chain, notably banks and offtakers. The African Development Bank’s Josephine Mwangi spoke to the need to reduce the risk in agricultural investment, an area that the bank is already working on through its FEED Africa initiative and mobilisation of funding to finance Africa’s agricultural transformation.

Greater intra-African agricultural trade will depend not only on the actions of businesses and governments, but also on regional and partner institutions who can provide catalytic action on a wider scale. At the regional level, organisations such as Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), which is part of the COMESA regional block, have created an enabling environment through partnerships and investments that promotes intra-regional trade in fertilisers and other inputs.

gallina inlineThe European Commission used the Briefing as an opportunity to make a strong presentation of its support for regional trade in Africa. According to Sandra Gallina, Director for Sustainable Development at DG Trade, in terms of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) “there are gains that can be made within EPA regions, as well as between EPA groupings through the opportunity to cumulate… this regional preference is what we see in the intra-regional EPA game as massively important.” This spoke directly to concerns about the implications of the EPAs for regional integration in the ACP, particularly for Africa. In his closing remarks, Roberto Ridolfi, Director for Sustainable Growth and Development at DG EuropeAid, presented ongoing and future engagements by the European Commission to support electrification and agribusiness financing for Africa (ElectriFI and AgriFI respectively). Both these instruments aim to reduce the risk of investing into these two priority areas for Africa’s regional development, and make it easier to leverage funds from both private and public sources. Ridolfi further stressed that aid instruments must be used to leverage private finance in order to scale up successful businesses, and agreed on the need to develop an online platform which consolidates all the information on the various EC programmes supporting trade.

CTA’s director, Michael Hailu, also expressed a wish to see regional trade in Africa leading to the creation of more jobs and opportunities in rural areas, and for increased private sector involvement. In terms of future activities, CTA will be engaging with DG Devco in a preparatory exercise in April or May, which will feed into the EU-Africa Business Forum that takes place during the European Development Days 2017 (June in Brussels). A declaration by business leaders and CEOs will be presented to the EU-African Union Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Abidjan in November 2017.

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