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New Alliance for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones commits $3bn investment to boost African agriculture and food production

09 November 2023

AIF 2023

MARRAKESH - The African Development Bank Group, Afreximbank, Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms, the Islamic Development Bank Group and UNIDO have launched a new private sector-focused alliance to bridge the critical financing gap in agriculture.

At the 2023 Africa Investment Forum's Market Days, founding members of the Alliance for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones announced US$3bn in new investment to transform Africa’s underdeveloped rural areas into agro-industrial corridors of prosperity.

The Alliance, comprising development financial institutions, the private sector and development-oriented technical partners, will also help streamline the development and delivery of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones projects.

The new commitments consist of US$1.1 bn by the African Development Bank Group, US$1bn by Afreximbank, US $300m by the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) and US$600m from Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms (Arise IIP) and its partners.

Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said, “The Alliance will raise funds through various investment windows for project preparation, project development and construction, and financing for tenant companies.”

“By doing so, the Alliance will bridge the critical financing gap, complement existing initiatives, and mobilize resources towards our common goal of enhancing agricultural value addition in Africa.”

According to the Alliance members, meeting this financing goal will deliver an additional 15 to 20 SAPZ projects in various countries across the continent and improve administrative, policy and investment incentives.

UNIDO brings a wealth of technical assistance knowledge, practical experience, tools and methodologies to the Alliance.

Gunther Beger, UNIDO Managing Director of the Directorate for Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Economic Transformation, said, “We have a lot of experience in developing, planning and implementing industrial parks and special economic zones,” adding, "The Alliance presents a completely new approach to transform Africa’s agro-food system. This is a much-needed partnership of financial institutions, public and private sector players.”

Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) stimulate structural transformation in agriculture by connecting rural and urban development through the zone’s ecosystem. These zones integrate smallholder farmers into value chains through logistics and infrastructure, linking them to agro-industrial processors and consumer markets.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, welcomed the emergence of the Alliance and suggested that, to attract the private sector, the creation of continental regulatory bodies that countries could respect should be considered. 

Arise IIP CEO, Gagan Gupta, underlined the need for infrastructure around the zones that reflects the need of these communities, including housing, transportation, health and extension services. “These zones rely on the governments for policy frameworks, supporting infrastructure, and training and vocational centres,” he said.

Rwanda’s Minister of State for Treasury, Richard Tusabe, said, “Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones will give us a chance to mass produce the food we need to feed our population.”

The Africa Investment Forum draws African heads of government, investors, transaction sponsors and development financial institutions. 

For additional information and inquiries, please contact:

Dejene Tezera, Director, UNIDO ET/AGR