Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire
By Patrick Chumba
14 June 2012
Named Africa’s richest man, philanthropist Aliko Dangote said Tuesday he wanted to use his vast personal fortune to help the continent “recover” from the food crisis.
Speaking at the African Union (AU) summit in Rwanda, Dangote made his pitch to the AU and the international community to cut food imports in Africa. The $27 billion-a-year food trade is the main reason Africa is losing millions of people to hunger each year.
“By 2030, if Africa does not reduce imports by 50 percent, it will have 3.3 million fewer people; the population will increase by about 1.4 percent… but the [GDP] growth will slow to 2 percent, [and] Africa’s GDP will be 16 percent below where it is today,” Dangote warned.
The World Food Programme (WFP) warned last month that the hunger crisis could become a disaster by 2035 if the global food crisis continues. In 2010, the WFP said 3.13 million Africans, including 1.26 million children under five years, were sick with hunger.
Dangote said he had been “fascinated” by the food crisis and how it was “causing a lot of distress” in Africa and the world. He has set up Dangota, a foundation which will distribute food aid across Africa.
“I am here to say as much as I am one of the richest men in the world and I want to do my part to help Africa recover and also give back to Africa,” Dangote told reporters.
“We need to stop importing food into Africa, and for that, we need to change the way we produce,” he said.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was asked by reporters during his bilateral meeting with Russian