This Africa Day, we focus our attention on the subject of Nutrition – a pressing issue for our continent, and for our industry, which can provide many of the solutions we need.
Happy Africa Day – the 25th of May is the day each year which marks the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (AU). It’s a day for celebrating the achievements and potential of our great continent, and the diversity and common humanity of its people.
It’s also a day for highlighting a particular aspect of what it means to be African, and this year, the African Union’s theme for the day is ‘Nutrition’. As the continent continues its long recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with climate change starting to impact global food production and pressures on global supply chains and political instability in Europe, food security is an issue of increasing concern for African countries.
Food insecurity is prevalent across our continent, affecting 35.8% of the Middle Africa sub-region’s population in 2020, with sub-Saharan Africa following at 30%. This situation is not unrelated to our dependence on imports: between 2010 and 2019, North Africa was the region with the most food imports in Africa, accounting for a share of 31%. Southern Africa and West Africa followed with 25% and 24%, respectively.
As the AU itself points out, there is a need for continued efforts, especially in the regions and communities where risks are most acute, to strengthen social protection systems and safeguard access to food and nutrition for the most vulnerable groups, especially young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and the elderly. While foreign assistance and a global approach have their roles to play, our best and most sustainable solutions are to be found here at home, drawing on African resources and African ingenuity and creativity.
The commercialisation and modernisation of African agriculture, for example, has the potential to encourage local sourcing to ensure sustainable food supply. In South Africa, supplier development initiatives by some of our major food companies and grocery retailers are helping us secure a more sustainable supply of nutrition, bringing food supply closer to where it is consumed, and upskilling a new generation of farmers and producers. At the same time, the informal food markets and vendors who keep much of the continent fed are reinventing their businesses using technology, particularly mobile, to improve their efficiencies, reduce their costs, and serve their customers better.
Africa also has a great – and evolving – culinary tradition to share with the world, highlighting local cuisines through initiatives like West Africa’s ‘Jollof Wars’ where the battle is on for who makes the best Jollof between Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal, South Africa’s ‘Mogodu Mondays’, and Kenya’s ‘Nyama Choma’ movement. And as the world begins to embrace a more plant-based approach to nutrition, traditional African dishes such as umngqusho, samp and beans, Ghanaian beans and plantains, and Kenyan chapati and vegetable stew are enjoying a more widespread popularity.
So, while nutrition remains an ongoing issue for Africa, there is much to celebrate. Retailers and producers large and small continue to provide healthy nutrition to hundreds of thousands of Africans, every day. And as Africa’s agricultural and food sectors come of age, it’s conceivable that in the not-too-distant future, Africa will feed the world.
The Ti Retail in Africa Report is an overview of the evolution of retail in Africa, the long-term economic growth story and the key themes shaping the market – a must-have strategic guide for ambitious FMCG organisations looking to tap into the continent. Click to read more.
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