INTERNATIONAL – Africa's efforts in using information and communication technology to revolutionize its agriculture will yield faster results with lessons from China's experience, a Chinese expert has said.
Chen Zhigang, China program leader for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) told Xinhua in an interview that there was much that Africa could benefit from China, both in terms of technology transfer and policy development.
"If I look at China, certainly e-commerce and digital economy have played a critical role in agriculture and rural economy," Chen who participated in the just-ended four-day Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) said.
The expert added that although the AGRF had demonstrated a similar trend beginning in Africa, the continent needed to collaborate with China, which is a few years ahead in the application of the digital economy, and the agricultural transformation for faster growth.
Officials of IFPRI and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa(AGRA) collaborated with the Gates Foundation to organize a session on e-commerce during the four-day forum.
The session looked at ways in which the Chinese experience in e-commerce and the role of digitization in agricultural transformation could have implications for Africa.
Chen described China as a big market, hungry for more food since the rise in wages had challenged the country to provide enough food for its citizens, hence the need to import additional food from outside.
He said Chinese technology could be transferred to Africa to help improve upon productivity, and then "we can build the cross-continent value-chain between China and Africa."
The expert, however, added that there was the need for sequential policy reforms and political stability in Africa to allow for such policies to crystallize and become the continent's blueprint for development.
"One very good thing in China is that they can do sequential policy reforms because of political stability. So, the policy is very much in a continuation but one big challenge in Africa is instability. When you change from one political arena to another then, you often see discontinuation of the policy, and that often makes the sequential policy making difficult, so, that is going to be critical," he added.