The African Agricultural Transformation Initiative (AATI) has been launched by a consortium of collaborators to improve sustainable development in Africa by bridging the gap between the formulation of strategic agricultural initiatives and their successful implementation at the local level.
This initiative, which has a $19.6 million budget until 2025, is the result of close collaboration between AGRA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that provides pro bono support. IFAD will host AATI’s central office. The BMGF will contribute $10 million, and IFAD will contribute $2 million. Other donors will fill the funding gap.
As current crises and disruptions in food networks expose most African countries’ reliance on food imports, it has become critical to transforming agriculture in order to lift vulnerable rural people out of poverty and hunger. Accelerating and strengthening implementation will have a significant impact on improving food security, alleviating rural poverty, and assisting small-scale farmers in adapting to climate change.
“Given the scale of the rural economy in Sub-Saharan Africa and its enormous potential, we believe that inclusive agricultural transformation is the most effective way to drive sustainable development,” said Safia Boly, Executive Director of the AATI. AATI will assist them by developing tailored strategies that will eventually allow them to realize their full agricultural potential.”
This new initiative comes at a time when worrying downward spirals of poverty and hunger are erasing years of steady progress. According to the most recent UN report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, Africa continues to have the highest prevalence of hunger (20%), with a total of 278 million people affected by hunger in 2021. The conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating the crisis that many African countries are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change-related weather events, and conflict.
This perfect storm has left many African countries with little fiscal space to increase development spending, which is having a significant impact on the agriculture sector. Poor rural people are the hardest hit because they are unable to cope with price increases because they already spend up to 70% of their income on food. AATI is currently launching its first wave, which will cover four countries (Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Senegal), with the goal of accelerating effective and sustainable changes in their food systems based on their needs, priorities, and existing infrastructure.
McKinsey & Company’s Acha Leke, Senior Partner, and Chairman Africa: “McKinsey is pleased to contribute pro bono consulting services to this initiative. We believe we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to use our expertise, knowledge, and capabilities to assist African countries in driving inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformations.”
The initiative will disseminate lessons learned and provide assistance to other African countries, as well as collaborate with additional partners, making the most of the knowledge generated by key stakeholders. AATI builds on the recent experience of several African countries, including national agricultural transformation agencies, in bringing together governments, the private sector, and civil society to overcome key challenges and replicate successful agricultural transformation delivery mechanisms.