Korean model, anchored on AfDB feeding Africa priority - Key to empowering SMEs

BY: Maxwell Awumah

In line with strokes of violin and guitar churning out good melody and soothing music, is the same kinetic intimacy that was blossoming between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Saemual Undong (SMU) partnership under the aegis of the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Trust Fund and bearing the desired fruits to lead the fourth Industrial Revolution.

This SMU initiative formed the driving force of South Korea’s rapid industrialization and growth, which was adopted by Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011, and being replicated in Cote D’Ivoire as of 2015, is turning out the fortunes of otherwise impoverished communities into zones of economic development and wealth generation.

The SMU model fits directly into AfDB’s industrialization priority strategy, which is pivoted on: direct investment in power and infrastructure; capital market development for small and medium enterprises; support to entrepreneurs; and establishment of industrial clusters, provided the foundation for a take off in Zatta and Ngbekro, all communities in the Yamoussoukro province of Cote D’Ivoire.

This partnership again dovetails into the Bank’s new vision of partnering with the media to support in telling its success stories to the African constituency by providing evidence-based architecture and approaches to deepen awareness of a ‘Can do spirit’ to indusrialise and feed the continent.

Saemaul Undong, translated into English as “New Community” which focuses on community development is christened on diligence, self-help and cooperation, could be applied for a multiplier effect on rural socio-economic growth.


Its cardinal principles are rooted in; wealth generation; equitable distribution of income; environmental consciousness creation and agricultural equity; capacity development and participative approaches; skills and awareness creation in public or state institution.

Alignment with AfDB’s strategies

The SMU philosophy is complimentary to the AfDB’s 10 year strategy (2013-2022) that focuses on inclusive and green growth with cutting-edge themes on agriculture and food security. This alignment agrees with three out of the Bank’s High 5 Priorities: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; and Improve the quality of life of Africans.

The SMU again maps onto the tenets of the Sustainable Development Goals strategies modeled to transform rural enclaves into areas of economic advancement and prosperity.

Through the chain of partnership of the AfDB, SMU, KOAFEC and the government of Cote D’Ivoire and support from the Agence Nationale d’Appui au Development Rural (ANADER) (National Extension Service of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture) the burgeoning communities of Zatta and Ngbekro of about 3,000 population have had their economies transformed by adopting this transformational model.

These projects have undoubtedly achieved the H5 strategy of Feed Africa - through the provision of irrigation, crop farming and poultry keeping; Industrialise Africa – translating into markets, microfinance operations as well as Improve the quality of life of Africans – through the construction of schools, youth and medical centres.

Impacts

Zatta and Ngbekro communities have experienced unprecedented harvests in cassava production, which increased to one ton annually from the 20,000 kilos, tomatoes from 50,000 kilos to 1.5 tons including high yields for rice by embracing modern farming techniques.

Refreshingly, household incomes increased enormously with female headed homes garnering monthly incomes of about US$ 533 compared to the meager US$ 35 accruing, when the SMU project was not operational.

Specifically, the Ngbekro community benefitted from dam for irrigation, a three unit classroom block, 12-seater latrine, teacher’s bungalow, and health centre, four hectares of cassava farm as well as poultry and piggery project. Their counterparts in Zatta profited from a three-unit classroom block, teacher’s quarters, childcare centre, four hectares of cassava farm, a weaving industry, 160 hectares of tomato farm, a youth centre with adjoining headquarters for micro finance centre and a market at a collective cost of US$ 1 million.

Ms Sylvie Zounon, a beneficiary vegetable farmer from Zatta village narrated that her tomato and garden eggs plantation sited on a 2.5 hectare of land continues to yield dividend.

She said out of her soft loan of 500 dollars, which had been repaid, she makes a profit of about 70 percent annually on cultivating the produce in addition to employing six permanent workers and five farm hands, who are paid daily stipend of five dollars.

Challenges, Ms Zounon said include irrigation inadequacy, post-harvest losses of about 20 percent and haulage of produce to market centres and expects to scale-up with injection of mechanization and financial support as well as means of haulage and optimistic the multiplier effect is to engage more youths and increase production in line with the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy .

Another beneficiary from Ngbekro, Mr Kouassi Ngoran, who took a loan of 400 dollars to expand his farm and now harvests about 15 tons of tomatoes every season saying the “Support was divine hitherto his situation will have been difficult financially.”

Beneficiaries under the cloth weaving model and poultry have also recorded tremendous gains. The Lolobo women’s group are being supported to process cassava into the favourite ‘Atieke’ (Wet Gari) with state-of-the-arts production unit, which would utilize biogas from waste to fire the plant.

The traditional overlords of Ngbekro and Zatta, Nanan Kouame Yaou and Nanan Michel Kakou, through their spokesmen, respectively, lauded the benefits accruing to the local economy, without which life would have been unbearable.

They commended the Bank’s partnership with KOAFEC and the South Korean government, which pre-qualify their communities to be beneficiaries and appealed for inclusion of scaling-up strategies to open up the frontiers for cultivating more lands and raising more animals to feed the many mouths of Africa.

“This project has come to deepen our communal spiritedness, increase environmental cleanliness and awareness and changed the psyche of the people towards challenging their circumstances at all times.”

Dr Miaman Kone, Rural Economic Consultant and Manager of Studies of ANADER said stakeholders received technical and managerial training on project management, bookkeeping, accounting procedures and extension services to drive the project.

Mr David Agbee, governance and security expert and Executive Director of Ghana Institute of Governance and Security said the SMU model project is novel with high propensity to enhance the attainment of the SDGs, which needed to be adopted for replication by the African Union.

He insists the partnership be strengthened on scaling up the support systems, provision of machinery, mini processing facilities in addition to building recreational grounds for self-preservation and extended security.

The economic opportunities available in Abidjan, characterized by high industrialization and urbanization are appealing to people living in undeveloped, rural areas and will cause the population to rise to 6.32 million in 2025 from the 4.13 million in 2010, according to Responsible Business.com and strategies like the Saemaul Undong model project could tame the rural-urban migration scourge of the youth to the cities.

When African countries embrace the SMU model as a working tool like the Continental Free Trade Area strategy, it won’t be long the rural economies would become bourgeoning fulcrum to churn out the needed development as the private sector rises to the test, while funding regimes are anchored for the financing of these projects to feed and industrialise Africa.