– NIGERIA’S MINISTER RECEIVES THE PRESTIGIOUS 2013 FORBES AFRICA PERSON OF THE YEAR –
Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, has been named the 2013 Forbes Africa Person of the Year which celebrates the individual who has made a profound influence on events of the year gone by.
With the award ceremony that took place on 2 December 2013, at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi Kenya, Dr. Adesina was nominated defeating four others for his bold reforms in Nigeria’s agriculture sector, having introduced an Electronic Wallet which allowed roughly six million smallholder farmers in his country to receive electronic vouchers directly and to pay for farm inputs from farm input dealers at subsidized prices.
Before its introduction, the farmers relied on middlemen to get the inputs which exposed them to exploitation and corruption but the vouchers have enabled farmers to pay for their inputs directly in the retail shops, cutting out the middlemen.
The mobile application, seen by many as showcasing how technology can be used to transform agriculture and improve the lives of citizens, is the brainchild of local Kenyan firm Cellulant and its enterprising founder, Ken Njoroge.
The achievement of the electronic wallet system has made Nigeria to be the foremost country in Africa to reach farmers with subsidized farm inputs through the mobile phone. In addition it is really remarkable to see an executive with precision of purpose and commitment to execution in applying mobile commerce technology to impact on people’s lives.
Being a man on a mission to help Africa feed itself, Akinwumi Adesina was considered a worthy winner by the judges hoping it will encourage the rest of the continent to grow more of its own food.
A passionate defender of African farmers, within two years of his taking office, Adesina turned agriculture away from being a narrative of wealth creation into a business activity that generates wealth to millions of farmers.
With the end of the telecoms boom and dwindling oil fortunes the next big leading edge venture is unlocking Africa’s vast agricultural potential not just to feed the continent but the world as well.
His dream for Africa is see the vast savannas revived with crops, where smallholder farmers and large commercial businesses coexist and both prosper, the transport infrastructure improved to enable more food to move from places of surplus to places of need, the markets opened internationally. By so doing so doing the improved income will bring millions of farmers into Africa’s emerging middle class.