Industry Insights

New agricultural and food venture backed by McKinsey in Africa

The African Agricultural Transformation Initiative is a brand-new program that seeks to support equitable agricultural growth in Africa. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IFAD, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and the consulting company McKinsey & Company are among the founding partners.

Africa is a big, resource-rich continent with limitless potential and some of the world’s most fertile agricultural grounds. Despite the fact that almost 70% of Africans work in agriculture, most of them on a small-scale, the continent still struggles with endemic malnutrition and skyrocketing food prices, with farmers struggling to make ends meet.

In a $19.6 million effort that brings together the corporate sector and governments in nations all throughout Africa, the African Agricultural Transformation Initiative (AATI) seeks to lessen these burdens.

The project develops strategies, enhances infrastructure, provides resources, and then implements at the local level through training initiatives and hands-on assistance.

Omid Kassiri, a managing partner in the Nairobi office of McKinsey & Company, stated that the objective was for it to continuously drive the improvement of the lives of millions of people in numerous nations.

Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Senegal comprise the initial wave of the AATI. The goal is to “accelerate effective and sustainable improvements in local food systems, depending on their requirements, priorities and existing infrastructure,” according to a press release from IFAD, the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development, one of the cofounders of the program.

“The role of McKinsey & Company here is knowledge,” said Safia Boly, executive director of AATI. “Working with partners and having the reach to bring partners together, bringing digital solutions, delivery expertise, problem solving, and implementation methodologies, all of which has been essential to the establishment of the AATI.”

The project was started with the aid of McKinsey’s Foundation for Social Good, a charitable enterprise that promotes long-term cooperation between leading institutions. The initiative, which debuted in 2020, seeks to identify cutting-edge approaches that promote fair and sustainable growth on a global scale.

According to a previous McKinsey study, foreign investment is necessary for the African continent’s agriculture, which is largely made up of the estimated 780 million so-called “smallholder” farmers.

The cost of basic foods in African nations is heavily reliant on outside variables, particularly imports. According to a study by the IMF (International Monetary Fund), which also discovered that food prices frequently increase when nations are affected by war, natural disasters, and currency instability—all relatively common ills in many African countries—these conditions also tend to cause countries to experience higher food prices.

According to an analysis by Human Rights Watch, the war in Ukraine has made the situation of food security in Africa more worse during the past year. African nations all over the continent depend on imports of wheat, fertilizer, and vegetable oils from Ukraine.

25% of the food that Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, imports comes from both Russia and Ukraine. In nations like Uganda, Sudan, Cameroon, and Tanzania, where Human Rights Watch discovered that increases in food prices caused by the war had a significant impact on people’s lives, that number is considerably greater.