Former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has called on African leaders to develop sound policies and take actions to address nutrition challenges in Africa.
Giving his keynote address on Tuesday at the Nutrition Africa Investor Forum (NAIF) in Nairobi, Kenya, the former President alluded that dealing effectively with malnutrition and its attendant problems is a cardinal imperative as nutrition-related problems have a direct bearing to economic growth and development of a nation.
“Investing in nutrition development offers nations some of the highest development returns. For example, investing in addressing the key micro-nutrient deficiencies in low-income food markets would unlock a market valued at USD 155 – 265 billion globally. Africa has a lot to offer now and in future. There are 1.2 billion people today and there will be 2 billion people in the African consumer market by 2050. The future prospect looks bright,” he said.
President Kikwete, who is the founder of the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation, was among several political and business leaders who gathered on Tuesday for the first-ever Nutrition Africa Investor Forum, a gathering which aims to engage private sector investors to play a key role in improving nutrition across Africa. The event is hosted by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)- an international organization founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with Royal DSM, a purpose-led global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living recognized for its global fight against malnutrition, the SUN Business Network and African Business magazine.
Malnutrition is one of Africa’s biggest challenges today. The number of ‘undernourished’ or hungry people in Africa increased from about 182 million in the early 1990s to around 233 million in 2016 according to the FAO, and yet no African country is expected to reach the UN target of ending childhood malnutrition by 2030. Africa is also the only continent in the world where children are both fat and stunted.
The Nutrition Africa Investor Forum will highlight business opportunities in a largely underdeveloped market. From farm to fork, nutrient gaps in diets within low and middle-income markets constitute a largely untapped market worth USD$120bn.