How can technology transform agricultural ecosystems?

The Covid-19 crisis has caused disruptions to food supply chains in Africa, with a significant impact on the continent’s food security. In this way, digital technologies seem to be necessary to increase the productivity and resilience of the African agri-food system.

The food security of the continent is indeed of decisive importance for the economic development of African countries. However, agriculture accounts for only almost 15% of GDP, although Africa contains about 60% of the world’s arable land.[1].

If in 2019 the 235 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa were food insecure, then surely the current health crisis, coupled with the economic and social crisis that many countries on the continent have been experiencing for several years exacerbated socio-economic problems. Farmers, companies operating in the agricultural sector, African SMEs as well as consumers have been and continue to be among the first victims of this multifaceted crisis. This situation is all the more alarming given that 51% of the continent’s active population works in the agricultural sector and is therefore dependent on its viability.[2] However, it should be clarified that these jobs are mainly subsistence agriculture.

Given this observation, new technologies undoubtedly provide effective and innovative solutions that can breathe new life into agricultural ecosystems on the continent. This is all the more important as Africa’s population will double by 2050, growing from one billion in 2019 to almost 2.4 billion in less than thirty years.[3]. At the same time, feeding people in Africa must be accompanied by enhanced conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems. In this configuration, it is more than important to promote the development of e-agriculture. By collecting, storing, analyzing and sharing information, digital technologies can significantly improve crop yields by helping food system actors make informed decisions and thus deliver compelling results in terms of sustainability.

In addition, the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) estimates that by 2030, 200 million farmers will need to digitalize in Africa due to the digital transformation taking place on the continent.[4]. Therefore, in order to realize the full potential of agritech, the current challenges of connectivity, energy access and finance need to be addressed. Thus, ambitious programs must be implemented that bring together public authorities and private sector actors in order to provide as many people as possible with access to innovative tools and, therefore, take advantage of the benefits offered by these solutions.

There are so many hurdles that Huawei already has solutions for, starting with the Smart Watering project in Morocco. This project, using 5G, cloud technology, artificial intelligence and big data, allows remote, accurate and intelligent irrigation using the amount of water needed to increase production. Thus, by installing sensors on the ground to collect and store data, this project aims to measure the humidity, temperature, electrical conductivity or even salinity of water, the goal of which is to optimize production and reduce water waste by more than 60%. In the same vein, the Rural Solar Project in Cameroon, which consists of deploying green energy solutions combined with artificial intelligence, has opened up more than 1,000 villages, with almost 4.5 million people able to access a stable connection.

We at Huawei truly believe that new technologies can play an important role in improving the lives of people in Africa and around the world. For example, we are convinced that the gradual emergence of the 5G network on the African continent will not only lead to an improvement in the mobile network, but will indeed become a real source of social and economic progress, especially in the agricultural sector. . . .

In order to make the most of the opportunities offered by new technologies in all sectors, including agriculture, it is important to introduce and train young African talent in digital tools. So that they can meet the challenges of their profession and fully control the digital future of their country, and in the end, from the mainland, we at Huawei have been committed to promoting ICT (Information and Communication Technology) skills training for more than twenty years. As such, the Group is working with African governments to drive digital transformation and provide more opportunities for the youth of tomorrow through various educational programs such as the Huawei ICT Academy, Seeds for the Future, and even the iTB talent project deployed in Egypt.

Hopes for a long-awaited green revolution on the continent, based on the increase in agricultural production in recent years, combined with the use of innovative sustainable solutions, require the mobilization of policy makers and private actors. It is critical that governments invest in irrigation, encourage digital transformation, and support small farmers with loans. These measures would then make it possible to limit the long-term economic impact of the pandemic by capitalizing on the natural resources offered by the African continent and thus make the agricultural sector one of the key drivers of economic and social development and growth. .

Adnan Ben Halima,

Vice President of Communications for Huawei North Africa

[1] “African Tribune”[CONNECT 54′] How to modernize African agriculture with digital technologies?, 2022.

[2] Business France, “Africa: Significant Agricultural Potential, Rich in Opportunities” (2022)

[3] “In 2050, more than half of Africa’s population will be under the age of 25” French Development Agency, (2019).

[4] Spore, African Agriculture Digitization 2019 (PDF)