Dairy Production in Africa
Dairy production in Africa plays a central role in the region’s economic and sustainable development. It contributes to food security, combats malnutrition and reduces poverty in the region. Dairy production in Africa has also created rural employment (nearly 80% of the African population resides in the countryside), and increased the economic potential of pastoral areas. Experts even expect strong production growth in the region due to an abundance of cows, goats and sheep.

Local Milk Production

Local milk production in West Africa has already risen by 50% between 2000 and 2016 to about 4 billion liters in 2019. Producing and selling milk provides an important source of income for locals. Around 48 million nomadic herders and agro-pastoralists participate in the milk sector, while others work in the trading and transportation of products. Additionally, the sector produces jobs in processing and marketing.

Despite substantial growth in recent years, the dairy sector in Africa faces major drawbacks such as high production costs and low yields. This is due to the lack of infrastructure and appropriate equipment in the production process. Another factor is the low-grade feed that affects animal health.

Local production does not yet have the capacity to meet 100% of demands in the sector. Only 50% of consumption comes from local production, and imported milk powder helps meet the remaining needs. On top of existing internal constraints, dairy production in Africa has to compete with cheap milk-based products imported from the European Union (E.U.). These foreign products continue to increase in quantity and threaten to overtake the African market.

Impact of Fat-Filled Milk Powder Imports

In 2018, the European Union exported 92,620 tons of milk powder to West Africa and 276,982 tons of fat-filled milk powder. That is an increase of 234% since 2008. Fat-filled milk mixtures comprise of milk constituents and vegetable oils, such as palm oil, enrich them. This milk derivative sells for 30% cheaper than whole milk powder in African markets, generating unfair competition for African dairy farmers.

For instance, in Burkina Faso, 1 liter of pasteurized local milk costs 91 cents in comparison to only 34 cents for milk made from E.U.-imported powder mixtures. Since competition is almost impossible, local livestock farmers suffer huge financial losses as imports increase. “I’ve tried selling my milk, but most of the time it goes to waste and ends up being poured away,” said Hamidou Bande, the president of Burkina Faso’s National Herders’ Union.

Furthermore, experts say that the milk lookalike does not contain the same nutritional value as whole milk with regards to its fatty acids, minerals and vitamin content. Locals are concerned about the health impact the milk import could have on their community. “It’s a milk that is flooding our schools and is very unhealthy for our children,” said Sommanogo Koutou, Burkina Faso’s minister of animal resources. Nevertheless, these products sell at wide availability because of their large consumer base, who have less purchasing power and thus prefer the cheaper option.

Change is Forthcoming

Members of the E.U., West African governments and private companies have all taken actions to support the local dairy market.

Vétérinaires Sans Frontières is a Belgian NGO supporting agriculture and breeding in eight African countries. It has involved itself in helping farmers improve all stages of production including livestock feed, herd health and animal hygiene, milk collection and processing as well as marketing for their products.

Fairebel, a Belgian milk brand, created the “advocacy brand” Fairefaso. It has partnered with local milk producers in Burkina Faso to support small-scale local farmers by helping them maximize sales and profits.

ECOWAS, short for the Economic Community of West African States, has launched the Regional Offensive for the Promotion of Local Milk. It aims to increase the production and collection of fresh milk.

With cooperation from European producers and institutional support, change is forthcoming for African livestock keepers and farmers. With increased funding and new import regulations, projections have determined that dairy production in Africa will continue growing to meet the needs of the local communities and beyond.

Alice Nguyen
Photo: Flickr

Politics in Gambia: Difficult Transition of Power Post Election
On December 1, President Yahya Jammeh lost his reelection campaign. Jammeh has been the figurehead for politics in the Gambia for 22 years. Since the election, Jammeh has gone from accepting the results to now challenging the results in the Gambian courts. So far the court has not been able to hear his appeal due to a number of absent judges on the deciding committee.

His challenger, Adama Barrow, is a former real estate agent that has never held political office. He plans to put a stop to government persecution and wants to focus on rebuilding the Gambian economy. He plans on investing in many industries that are needed but will focus largely on growth in Gambia’s technology sector.

Since Jammeh has assumed power through a 1994 coup, politics in the Gambia have been a dangerous business. Many Gambians are hopeful for the first time in 22 years. A number of exiled Gambians are reporting their optimism for the future and their intention to move back home. Many were exiled journalists who fled the country to avoid further torture and harassment by the Gambian government.

One such exiled man, Musa Saidykhan, was tortured with electroshocks, bayonets and chains for three weeks. He was accused of publishing a false story and having an affiliation with a failed coup years prior. He was never charged with any crime.

Sait Matty Jaw has a similar story. He was conducting a Gallup survey on human rights when he was suddenly arrested by government agents who imprisoned and charged him. He was eventually acquitted but the government appealed the decision to the court. Jaw felt he was no longer safe in his country and fled to Europe.

According to Al Jazeera there are no concrete numbers on Gambians living in exile. But one group, the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, concluded that at least 110 journalists have been exiled since Jammeh took power.

Jammeh’s resistance to relinquishing power is not being welcomed by his west African neighbors. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stated they have troops on standby prepared for military action if Jammeh does not leave power by January 19 when Adama Barrow is set to take office.

Maggie Dwyer of the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh believes that the election challenge “buys Jammeh more time and places pressure on ECOWAS to broker a deal.”

On December 20, in a television announcement, Jammeh said “unless the Court decides the case, there will be no inauguration on the 19 January. And let me see what ECOWAS and those big powers behind them can do.”

Gambians within the country and abroad will be looking forward to the decision by the court and the response by ECOWAS and the West. Dwyer states “Nearly all prominent organizations in the Gambia and the UN, AU, ECOWAS, US and more are unlikely to back down on their calls for Jammeh to concede defeat.” Many people will be looking forward to the closing of the Jammeh chapter in Gambia’s history and will be expecting President-elect Barrow to move politics in the Gambia forward in the right direction.

Brian Faust

Photo: Flickr

Economic_Opportunity_in_AfricaWhen it comes to creating jobs and economic opportunity in Africa, industries such as agriculture, mining and oil typically receive the most attention and investment from governments.

However, the cultural and creative industries are consistently overlooked as viable avenues for economic growth. These industries include food, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, performing/visual arts, museums and more.

Africa is no exception to the massive potential benefits that these industries could yield. The recent worldwide growth of tourism serves to further generate increased exposure and outside interest as well.

Further, the labor-intensive aspect of the creative industries offers an opportunity to generate more skilled and unskilled jobs. Additionally, this is a sector where modern technology can be adopted at a relatively low cost of investment.

Though there is no shortage of creative talent in Africa, there are logistical and infrastructural obstacles.

These barriers include a lack of skilled managers and industry professionals, lack of avenues for training artists’ technical competence, poor packaging and lack of standardization of cultural products, and poor distribution systems.

In order to move forward, governments will need to increase investments and implement relevant policies for the cultural and creative industries. An increase in economic opportunity in Africa through the arts requires government support.

Global and regional supply chains across the continent should also be built that will, in turn, create new trade patterns for African economies. For this to happen, there needs to be increased collaboration between global and Africans brands, designers/manufacturers, and development partners and governments.

Though there is a lot of work to be done, recent developments point to the strong possibility of incoming progress in the future.

Efforts to direct focus to the arts and address obstacles have recently emerged. For example, at Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stakeholder meetings in May 2015, the fifteen member states were urged to shift their focus from timber, cocoa and mineral exports to the introduction of relevant policies and funding for arts and cultural industries that will generate new economic opportunity in Africa.

In addition, ECOWAS members were called upon to support artists with training and offer them opportunities to collaborate with international partner organizations to help quality, standardization and packaging.

Further, the African Development Bank’s Office of the Special Envoy on Gender (AfDB) launched several initiatives in 2015. Such initiatives included Fashioeconomics, an event which brought together fashion designers and development partners to talk about the challenges of securing financing to build up the sector.

Additional forums and events regarding the fashion industry have also taken place, with participants highlighting the needs for innovative financing mechanisms to provide incentives to grow the industry.

Participants also highlight the need for fresh approaches to scale up African design firms through entrepreneurship, training and skills development, and boosting access to finance and global markets.

Anton Li

Sources: The Africa Report, XinhuaNet, Daily Nation, African Development Bank Group (AFDB)
Photo: Flickr