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Masiyiwa: Youth Are Leading Africa’s Journey to an Agricultural Revolution

AGRF 2020

September 6th, 2019

Zimbabwean entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa understands the dynamics of business in Africa enough to know that the future will be youth-led.

Masiyiwa, the outgoing chairman of the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), built a name for himself in the continent through major investments in technology and telecommunications.

Yet, even as he recognizes new opportunities in the technology environment as a result of the ongoing digital revolution, he says there are even better chances in agriculture. 

He adds that the youth, by their apparent desire to see a convergence between technology and agriculture will pioneer an economic revolution unlike any that has been seen elsewhere in the world. 

“Agriculture matters. And young people now see the opportunity in agriculture – it is an extraordinary opportunity and they are not looking at it from a purely agricultural basis, they are looking at the entire value chain,” said Masiyiwa.

“They (the youth) are showing that there is no greater industry to invest in in Africa than food and agriculture,” said Masiyiwa while noting that technologies like blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning will create unprecedented change in the agriculture industry. 

Mr. Masiyiwa was speaking at the ninth AGRF in Accra, Ghana, where 12 finalists of the inaugural GoGettaz Agripreneur Award made pitches, and two winners announced. 

The $100,000 Award, conceptualized by Masiyiwa and Yara International President Sven Tore Holsether, is a continent-wide competition celebrating innovative ventures by the youth in the agri-food sector.

Ghanaian Isaac Sesi and Tswana Bonolo Monthe became the first winners of the award. Sesi’s Sesi Technologies develops affordable, easy to use hardware and software solutions for farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain. One of Sesi’s impressive innovations is GrainMate, a cheap-to-acquire meter that accurately measures the moisture content of grain, helping in the reduction of post-harvest losses. The GrainMeter retails at $100 in a field where the average cost of similar gauges is $500.  

Monthe, through her Maungo Craft company, processes underused indigenous fruits like Marula, Motsentsela and Mowana, which she turns into low-to-no-sugar jams and other condiments. Monthe’s products have been approved by food regulatory authorities in Botswana and are available for sale in the country, even as she readies to enter specialty stores in international markets. Maungo Craft has won several awards and its products have been exhibited in some of the world’s biggest food and entrepreneurship shows in Denmark, USA, UK and Finland.

At a gala dinner, Holsether lauded the two winners and the other 10 finalists of the GoGettaz Award, describing them as inspirational drivers of change.