Christine Chemnitz is Department Head International Agriculture Policy at the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

16.06.2017

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Digital technologies no doubt hold a great potential to trigger changes in African agriculture. But the euphoria over digitisation must not eclipsethe issue of who actually benefits from new developments and whether they are not increasing pressure on those who are already marginalised instead of supporting fair participation, our author maintains.

As a rule, governments, federations and business representatives paint a rosy picture of what the future of African agriculture could look like with the aid of digital technologies. It is understandable for people to hold such hopes. After all, over the last 40 years, digitisation has changed many societies and business fields world-wide to an extent that hardly anyone would have predicted – albeit not necessarily in a fairer and more sustainable direction. Given the major challenges that many rural regions in Africa are facing, fundamental changes really are appropriate and needed. There, efforts to reduce rural poverty and hunger have met with less success than elsewhere, and the impacts of climate change and dwindling natural resources are going to further aggravate the situation that smallholders are in. In addition, more than 60 per cent of Africa’s population are younger than 25 years of age. From today up to 2035, around 350 million young people will be entering the labour market.

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