Upgrading Africa’s Agricultural Value Chains-Catalyzing Business Model Innovations

  • Julius Gatune African Centre for Economic Transformation
Keywords: agriculture, transformation, innovations, business models, policy


Agriculture plays a crucial role in Africa. Agriculture is the base of many economies and a significant sector of employment. However, the agricultural sector underperforms and as a result Africa is food insecure and economies that are largely powered by agriculture remain weak. Indeed, a huge and growing food import bill is a testimony to the underperformance of Africa’s agricultural sector. The potential of agriculture remains untapped and indeed the significant opportunity for an agricultural driven African industry has yet to be exploited, though urbanisation has created demand for processed and convenient foods and thus a ready market for food processing sectors. Developing a dynamic agro-processing sector will require the development of well-functioning agricultural value chains. However, agricultural value chains are plagued by many challenges that make it hard for them to deliver this. These challenges will need to be addressed. Much of this will call for many innovations along the agricultural value chains. Studies done by ACET and others have revealed emerging innovations that are addressing many of the challenges and that have potential for being scaled and replicated. Agricultural policy makers need to understand the role of innovations across the value chain and in particular business model innovations . Policy should then seek to cataly se and scale innovation. This paper looks at a number of business model innovations that have the potential to upgrade agricultural value chains and support the emergence of a strong food processing sector and gives policy recommendations.


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Author Biography

Julius Gatune, African Centre for Economic Transformation

Dr Julius Gatune is a Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor with the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET). He researches and advices governments across Africa on issues of economic transformation.  His areas of focus include: Foresight and future trends modelling, agricultural value chains and extractive resources management and institutional strengthening. He is currently leading a study on 4th Industrial revolution and the future of work in Africa. He was part of the team that wrote the recently launched African Transformation Report II: Agriculture Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation. He has led over 30 agricultural value chains study across Africa countries.  He is also supporting the International Resource Panel of United Nations Environment in developing a global governance framework to help extractive resources support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He has been involved in advising on extractive resources management Zambia, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. He has led a 3 year West Africa Trends monitoring exercise to understand the emerging trends in the region and their implications to the poor and excluded. He has also been part of an effort to map the future of Middle East and North Africa. Prior to joining ACET Dr. Gatune worked at McKinsey & Co at Johannesburg South Africa office as a management consultant.  He also worked at the Frederick S. Pardee Centre for Study Longer Range Futures at Boston University and the Frederick S Pardee Centre for International Futures at the University of Denver working on a number of projects that that looked explored the drivers of futures of Africa. He has a Ph. D in Policy Analysis for the Pardee RAND Graduate School and Masters in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and an MBA from the University of Nairobi.