Home » Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji says food insecurity is Africa’s biggest threat

Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji says food insecurity is Africa’s biggest threat

by Omokolade Ajayi
Mohammed Dewji

In a recent comment on the myriad crises facing the African continent, particularly in the context of the economic uncertainty created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Tanzania’s wealthiest man Mohammed “Mo” Gulamabbas Dewji has called food insecurity the biggest threat facing Africa.

In a tweet on his official Twitter account, Dewji called out African governments, asking what has been done to mitigate the risks posed by food insecurity.

The Tanzanian billionaire underscored that drastic measures are required to ensure food security in Africa, as households continue to face declining real incomes and rising food and energy prices.

For context, the United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a situation in which there is limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or a limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.

According to a World Bank report released on Tues. Oct. 4, the number of people facing severe food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased dramatically, with more than one in every five people facing hunger and more than one-quarter of a billion people undernourished.

The World Bank stated that food security crises are becoming more frequent, with 140 million people in the region expected to be acutely food insecure in 2022, up from 120 million in 2021.

An estimated 55 million people in East Africa will be acutely food insecure, up from 41 million in 2021. This comes as food insecurity crises on the continent become more regular and severe, with severe food crisis episodes occurring every 2.5 years in the 2000s, up from once every decade previously.

Africa’s economies have recently faced a number of challenges in their post-pandemic recovery, with regional economic activity slowing to 3.3 percent amid global headwinds such as weak international growth and tightening global financial conditions.

Inflationary pressures and the resulting policy tightening, as well as the growing risk of debt distress, are all weighing on economic activity. While food insecurity was increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa prior to the onset of COVID-19, the pandemic, as well as the food and energy crises, have all contributed to the recent sharp increase in food insecurity and malnutrition.

Nearly three months ago, Dewji, one of Africa’s wealthiest men, announced plans to list an agriculture company in New York or London next year under a $4-billion blank check arrangement backed by development banks, calling it a fantastic way to deliver food security on the continent.

The agricultural venture, which is still in its early stages of development, will launch in 2023 as a special purpose acquisition company, with the billionaire putting up $400 million as 10-20 percent of total funding.

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