On 18 and 19 June, the European Development Days (EDD) took place with the theme of this 13th edition being the fight against inequality. The Afruibana delegation – composed of Mr. Owona Kono, President of Afruibana, and Jean-Marie Kakou Gervais, Vice-President of Afruibana – was present to share the banana industry’s experience in this field and in poverty reduction. In addition, Mr. Owona Kono, President of Afruibana, was invited to speak at a panel discussion on “Adressing inequalities and building a local Africa leaving no one behind” on June 18.
In his presentation, Mr. Owona Kono provided an overview of inequalities in sub-Saharan Africa. He reca of data collection. In its last report, however, in September 2018, UNDP described a diversity of situations within the continent that undermines the reductive idea of a homogeneous Africa condemned to stagnate at the bottom of the pack.
Nevertheless, the significant growth experienced by the African continent since the early 2000s has not resulted in an improvement in people’s well-being. GDP per capita in Africa is less correlated with welfare indicators than the world average. However, poverty reduction requires the reduction of inequalities.
As Afruibana members are located in rural areas, Mr. Owona Kono wished to draw attention to the fact that approximately 380 million people will enter the labour market by 2030, including approximately 220 million in rural areas according to a joint FAO and CIRAD study. The challenge for sub-Saharan Africa in the coming decades is to generate enough jobs to absorb this growing labour force.
“This is my fight with Afruibana: the fight against territorial inequalities in Africa can be won by enhancing rural areas and facilitating the development of local industries, such as those of African bananas and other fruits”
Representing nearly 80,000 direct and indirect jobs in Cameroon, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the banana sector is a significant vector of development for African rural communities. Faced with the demographic challenge, it is an important source of job creation in rural areas. In these rural areas, banana plantations are not islands of wealth in an ocean of poverty, but the heart of an ecosystem that benefits all the surrounding populations with significant investments in infrastructure (hospitals, schools) and human capital (employee training, promotion of female employment).
In order to contribute to the economic development of production areas, large companies in the sector participate in the development of local SMEs and small farms through two axes: the promotion of entrepreneurship with a strong focus on the agri-food sector and the development of a contractual agricultural framework with small local producers.
Nevertheless, all these different concrete projects for African development are largely linked to European decisions. Indeed, with more than 80% of its exports destined for the European market, the African banana sector still depends heavily on the choices made by the European Union in terms of trade policy and development aid.