NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
African private sector should invest more in
technology to boost Africa’s agricultural renaissance, the CEO
of Kenya’s leading mobile phone firm told a regional
agricultural forum on Wednesday.
Safaricom CEO Bob
Collymore said efforts to revamp and accelerate agricultural
production in sub-Sahara Africa will require the concerted
effort of both the public and private sector players.
“Solving the future
challenge of producing more with less in a more sustainable
manner is not mission impossible. The private sector can lead
from the front by setting aside more resources for research and
innovation,” Collymore told participants at the ongoing Africa
Green Revolution Forum.
He noted that
private sector players will need to align their business growth
strategies to the national development agenda. This he said will
need to be done by developing and incorporating innovations that
boost agricultural production to guarantee food security.
Collymore added will involve investment in research programmes
and rollout of information technology-based products and
services that can enhance agricultural production.
The Safaricom CEO
told the delegates that increasing agricultural production will
require a fundamental shift towards a different growth path and
a swifter transfer of new products or techniques into practice.
Safaricom example, Collymore disclosed that a significant
portion of the firm’s 320 million U.S. dollars investment in
network enhancement had been channeled to rural areas to
facilitate clearer telecommunication delivery.
Collymore, as part of the firm’s commitment to agricultural and
rural development efforts, Safaricom is running full steam to
ensure that 80 percent of Kenya will enjoy 3G mobile broadband
network coverage by the end of the year.
“Such efforts are
critical in advancing an agricultural renaissance as it will
allow the building of Internet platforms that can foster
research and farm to market linkages for contemporary farmers,”
He noted that access
to the Internet and mobile value added services including mobile
banking solutions, will promote market access, as farmers can
seize local and international opportunities.
disclosed, has committed to partner with 23,000 public primary
schools, which have been earmarked for connection to the
Millions of local
farmers, he said, are already enjoying convenient micro-credit
solutions delivered through the Safaricom Mshwari and KCB Mpesa
mobile money platforms.
“We are not
reinventing the wheel. Large scale farmers; in floricultural and
horticultural fields are currently relying on mobile broadband
Internet access, to exploit market opportunities and manage
irrigation systems. Similar strategies, can easily be cascaded
and customized for adoption by small-scale farmers,” Collymore
He gave the example
of Kilimo Salama (“Safe Agriculture”), an insurance product
designed for Kenyan farmers to insure their farm inputs against
drought and excess rain. The innovation was a result of a
partnership between Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable
Agriculture, UAP Insurance, and Safaricom.
offers farmers who plant on as little as one acre insurance
policies to shield them from significant financial losses when
drought or excess rain are expected to wreak havoc on their
harvests,” he said.
“For Africa to
become the world’s bread basket, we must look at how to create
Agribusiness, not just agriculture,” said Collymore as he
challenged governments to work towards ensuring stability to
enable private sector investment in agriculture.
programs need to be farmer-centred and knowledge-based so that
the full potential of farmers, both men and women, including
small-holder and commercial farmers, can be harnessed in making
food security and sustainable development a reality,” he said.