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USAID, AfDB, Government of Sweden Announce Agriculture Fast Track

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - Today, Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Donald Kaberuka, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB); and Gunilla Carlsson, the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, announced the creation of the Agriculture Fast Track, a $25 million dollar first-of-its-kind fund that will spur greater private investment in agriculture infrastructure projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Announced at Grow Africa’s Investment Forum, the Agriculture Fast Track will spur agriculture infrastructure development in countries that are members of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, strengthening the links from farmers to markets to tables. Supporting up to $1.5 million per project, the Agriculture Fast Track will finance upstream work of project design, including feasibility studies, market analyses, site surveys, business plans, financial modeling and other activities necessary to ensure project quality and bankability. These project preparation grants will ultimately facilitate access to more funding for agriculture infrastructure because banks and other investors require this documentation to issue commercial loans.

The Agriculture Fast Track was developed with the support of USAID, which has committed $15 million and the Government of Sweden, which pledged $10 million. The fund will be managed by the African Development Bank.

“The African economy is currently overly dependent on public investment for infrastructure development,” said Kaberuka. “The Agriculture Fast Track is a critical tool to better leverage donor funding to catalyze private sector investment in support of infrastructure construction and Africa’s long-term economic growth and food security.”

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was launched by President Obama at last year’s G-8 summit and includes six member countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Tanzania. The New Alliance matches market-oriented regulatory reforms in these six countries with $3.7 billion in commitments from the private sector in agriculture.

“Since the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was founded last year, we’ve seen member countries make serious reforms that have led to real progress,” said Shah. “The launch of the Agriculture Fast Track allows African farmers to take advantage of these reforms through fast-tracked infrastructure projects that will better deliver their products to markets.“

“By targeting the project preparation stage of projects, the Agriculture Fast Track will advance infrastructure projects when funding is most acutely needed to pivot from planning to construction,” said Carlsson. “This targeted approach allows us to catalyze significantly more private sector investments and ensure the highest standards in terms of social and environmental sustainability.”
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Crédits: AK-Project