Award-winning Africa Plantation Capital (APC), which is a member of the APC Group of companies, together with consumer products powerhouse BIDCO Africa Ltd organized a Bamboo planting day at Ndakaini Dam, Muranga County.

The event was aimed at bringing together stakeholders in the bamboo industry to create, develop and build a sustainable industry — not only to protect the environment, but also to create employment and support the economy with both local and foreign investments. The event’s chief guest was the Cabinet Secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Professor Judy Wakhungu.

This event follows the APC Group’s policy for extensive Corporate Social Responsibility. Africa Plantation Capital, and the APC Group at large, is implementing extensive CSR programs all over Kenya that include, but are not limited to, student scholarships, environmental awareness days, water tank donations, food donations, etc. The Bamboo planting at Ndakaini Dam is aimed at conserving the environment, as deforestation has adversely affected the water levels in the dam. During the event, the CS confirmed that the water level in this dam was at 28%, which is very alarming. The conservation program between BIDCO and APC is one more show of commitment to giving back to the Kenyan society as much as possible.

As per the discussions, BIDCO committed to planting one million bamboo seedlings around the dam, whereas APC committed to providing extension services to monitor the project, including attaching one of her agronomists to the project. APC, through her Business Development Director, Mr. Kelvin Kaloki, who represented the company, reiterated its commitment to developing the bamboo industry, working together with like-minded people and institutions to create sustainability.

APC is already committed to conservation programs in other parts of the country with partners like CHAEMP in Busia County for river bank conservation. CHAEMP, among other responsibilities, will mobilize the community of about 200 households living at start and along this stream, originating west and flowing into Nafisi stream, and then Namunyere streams in Busia County, by carrying out public awareness meetings. The community members use water from the streams and associated springs, and their farms border these streams. APC will be the funding partner while also assisting in management, provision of relevant information and technical support. CHAEMP will also organize public meetings with relevant stakeholders, especially KEFRI, KFS, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

The APC group has been operating successfully over the last 15 years and currently has 126 plantations under management in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, and the US. The group is also operating 5 distilleries, process facilities and 5 boutiques. The APC group head administration office is located in Geneva, while the operations include another 11 offices around the world.

The APC group’s operation success has been recognized repeatedly from different organizations around the world for its sustainable plantation management and forestry investment skills in Europe and Asia. During the recently concluded Business Awards, the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded Africa Plantation Capital the “New Business of the Year” award, adding one more recognition to the group’s achievements over the years.

With a current population of more than a billion people and a growth rate of about two and a half percent per annum, Africa is going to experience tremendous booms over the coming decades. By 2050, there will be 2.5 billion people living on the continent, and after 50 more years it will go up to 4.4 billion. So, by 2050 about 26% of the world’s population will reside in Africa and by the year 2100 it will contain 39% of the total.

To help cope with this tremendous increase, the countries of Africa need to form alliances with each other to start putting in futuristic infrastructure throughout the continent. They need more schools to train local citizens, thereby better empowering them to succeed. Like any other place in the world, independent innovation is going to be the key to modernizing Africa. This means local governments need to be restructured on better electoral systems. So, Africans need to have zero tolerance for improper governance. They need grassroots efforts to guarantee human rights.

Africa contains huge percentages of the global reserves of precious metals like magnesium and platinum, but so many people live in extreme poverty. This vast repository should transfer into the health and wealth of the people, but it doesn’t. Furthermore, farmland is becoming an increasingly rarer global commodity, but more than a quarter of all the fertile soil in the world is found in Africa. In reality, the continent has so much arable land that it should be exporting tons of food, however many areas are unused so countries end up needing to import vast quantities of edible goods, instead. This is a terrible waste of resources.

Foreign invested large-scale farming could help deal with this, but it’s not really the best solution. Although this would provide jobs to natives and allow for roads to be built and electricity to be harnessed, the problem is that it would make local populations dependent on foreign capital. Plus, vast mono-crop plantations cause tremendous harm to the planet, and the profits from things like palm oil don’t even really benefit local populations.

Food insecure countries don’t need overseas companies coming in and taking things over in vicious land grabs. There is a tremendously high demand for locally produced food that needs to be met. Plus, there are a number of exportable products throughout Africa — like cocoa, as well as sheep and goats. Everything is just being mismanaged, so very few people gain anything from all of this.

Granted, Africa’s food challenges are highly complex. They’re also very different from one country to the next. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, and all of the other African nations each need locally tailored solutions to their own locally specific problems. Although, the continents relentless growth means that it also needs to foster shared prosperity in order to flourish. This is quite a dilemma.

Inadequate infrastructure, erratic border policies, and weak input markets make it nearly impossible for the vast majority of countries in Africa to successfully modernize. They need enhanced irrigation and diverse crop varieties, but have no way of acquiring these things. This is terribly unfortunate because something like poor grain quality impacts every facet of daily life. So, the overall goal is to get lower production and transport costs on higher yields throughout the continent.

In addition to this, rampant deforestation is negatively impacting the lives of native hunter-gatherers more and more. So, to offset this, urban jungles need to be built to house these displaced communities. Strong public and private partnerships need to be made in order for this to occur. Simply put, there needs to be massive investment in the agribusiness sector to make more food locally available and to boost exports.

To make matters worse, along with widespread malnutrition, the growing threat of climate change will also negatively affect more and more people in Africa as time goes on. So, urban planning in the underdeveloped continent needs to move away from the concept of coastal living to prepare for the coming climate change inundations by setting up inland megacities. There needs to be massive investments in basic amenities like providing water to everyone by installing more plumbing.

By having better means of irrigation as well as access to electricity through renewable sources, Africans will experience quality of life increases unlike anything they have ever known before. Of course, this is going to require a great deal of commitment from the UN and the World Bank, as well as a number of other groups. Luckily, Africa’s workforce is developing faster than any other continent, so they will also be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, in many ways. If all goes well, by the turn of the century Africa will be completely new, with the fastest growing economies and the strongest middle class on the planet. That’s why we can’t afford to get this wrong. Africa simply has to modernize. The fate of the world depends on it.

Advice for foreign companies willing to invest in Africa:

  • Do not come with solutions but ready to engage with others to find solutions: reengage the minds of the African population to solve their problems.
  • You need local partnerships: coming from the outside, you’ll find a few things that will challenge your business model.
  • You can’t have a short-term goal: you need patience for the investment to mature or for the industry to settle – in fact, you may need to help shape the industry.
  • Know the values of where you are: if you want to build for the long term, you can’t just focus on the economic factor – you also need to facilitate social engagement.

To create economic value, create value for the people, and then they will support you.

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