Why Data Can Save Africa

Alpha du Centaure

Photo: Alpha du Centaure via Flickr

Last week, the World Bank gave $50 million to the Kenyan Bureau of Statistics to help the body with better accumulation of data. “High-quality data are critical to measure progress in growing the economy, reducing poverty and fostering shared prosperity,” says Diarietou Gaye, the bank’s country director for Kenya.

Africa has more than half of the world’s unused arable land. Yet, countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and Thailand currently export more food products than all of Sub-Saharan Africa combined, the bank points out. Additionally, despite 65% of Africa’s labour force being in agriculture, less than 1% of outstanding commercial bank loans actually go to the agricultural sector.

Clearly, the growth potential of Agriculture in Africa has not been matched by reality. There are many reasons (mainly political) for this, but one thing is for sure: data holds the keys to opportunity on the continent. Sara Menker, a former Wall Street trader originally from Ethiopia, has founded a company based on this principle, and presented her ideas to the Quartz Africa Innovators summit last week.

Read more here.