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Inside James Mwangi’s Africa Marshal plan

 Inside James Mwangi’s Africa Marshal plan

Equity Group CEO Dr James Mwangi.

A few years from now, residents across East African will be eating local wheat cooked with edible oil sourced entirely from the continent and moving in electric cars powered by batteries produced from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) cobalt and copper industries.

East Africa is currently going through unprecedented inflation linked to supply chain hiccups and expensive dollars to buy commodities from far flung markets.

With global supply chains strained, Africa has fallen down the pecking order struggling to get raw materials after fighting it out for scarce dollars which have become very expensive.

It is a wake-up call for the continent that sits on vast acres of unutilized arable land, large mineral deposits and a rising population of talented youth.

The continent has realized that now, more than ever is the time to become self-reliant in order to create new supply chains and revive the old industries that were run aground by globalization.

In the 1960s, Africa was the world’s leading producer for palm oil – a raw material that is used in the making of edible oil.

Africa can use its 60 percent of available, arable land to tap the opportunities of unmet demand and fill the gap of the wheat and sunflower supply previously provided by Russia and Ukraine.

Africa can lead the world in resolving the climate change challenge by providing electric car solutions through value addition of its mineral resources and manufacturing strategy.

This is Equity Bank’s vision as Dr James Mwangi rolls out the continent’s Marshal plan that is set to change Africa’s future from being net importers to locally producing the products.

Dr Mwangi’s Africa recovery and resilience plan will see Equity Bank mobilize roughly Kes833 billion ($7 billion) to finance local businesses in agro processing, energy and extractives, link them with regional markets and completely transform the future of the continent.

“We have seeded the Plan with US$7 billion from our own balance sheet in order to finance the advancement of MSMEs in the private sector and to empower it to be on the driver seat to help expand opportunities through activity enhancement in the primary sectors of Agriculture, Manufacturing, Trade and Investment and support for MSMES, as a tool for integrating communities while advancing on knowledge, science, technology and innovations as well as social impact investments and environmental considerations to make sure that no one is left behind and that the environment is protected,” Dr Mwangi said.

Read also: Equity’s road to 100 million members

Equity Bank is onto something in a region that is realigning trade flows to be more focused on intra-Africa trade through the African Continental Free Trade Area and recent expansion of the East African region with the inclusion of DRC.

Besides regional re-alignment, the global drive for green energy is pushing up demand for local minerals as the new drivers of new copper and cobalt demand will be electric vehicles and charging stations (5x more than a gas car), renewable energy and storage systems, as well as 5G base stations.

Africa is also home to the world’s vastest arable land that could transform the continent through agro-processing of farm produce that would significantly enhance manufacturing scale leading to full-blown industrialization.

Productivity gains and value creation in the primary sectors of agriculture and mining could altogether propel and enhance investments and trade.

Dr Mwangi’s plan is to have by 2025, 100 million online customers empowering productive households that could sustain demand and financially enable value chains.

Out of this pool, Equity has put a modest ambition of funding 25 million borrowing consumers driving household consumption.

On the supply side, Dr Mwangi hopes to build five million borrowing businesses to expand productive capacities to drive value chain expansion and employment.

With the right strategy and financing, Africa can use its 60 percent of available, arable land to tap the opportunities of unmet demand and fill the gap of the wheat and sunflower supply previously provided by warring Russia and Ukraine.

By funding business that will create 25 million direct jobs and a further 25 million indirect jobs created as value chains expand and deepen, Equity Bank is creating a feedback loop of empowered consumers and invigorated suppliers.

It ensures that employees who make goods are able to purchase the items they produce and these empowered consumers and businesses will be Equity Bank customers, or ‘members,’ as the regional lender likes to put it.

Dr Mwangi’s private sector-led vision for East Africa has caught the attention of 12 global development banks including the Bretton Woods institutions the IFC, the World Bank, and the IMF.

The deal has also looped in the United Nations, the national Governments of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and the DRC; the regional trade community blocks such as the East Africa Community (EAC) and the African Free Continental Trade Area, and the European Union and the Commonwealth nations are supporting his Marshal plan.

Others partners and global foundations such as the Susan Buffet Foundation, the Mastercard Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates among others.

When the history of how East Africa grew to consume local wheat cooked with edible oil sourced entirely from the continent and moving in electric cars powered by batteries produced from Democratic Republic of Congo cobalt and copper is written, Equity Bank will be at the center of it.

newsroom@maudhui.co.ke

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