Togo’s sustainability pitch B


etween 2000 and 2016, agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa grew more rapidly than any other region in

the world. But the economic value and bene- fits to communities created by this activity are often limited by a lack of local agro-pro- cessing capacity. Gagan Gupta, the co-founder and chief

executive of pan-African industrial ecosystem developer Arise IIP, has made it his mission to change that. Since 2010, Mr Gupta and his col- leagues have identified industrial gaps in Africa to develop, finance and manage free zones dedicated to local transformation of rawmaterials. “When we look at developing an industrial

platform, we look at every country very specifi- cally,” says Mr Gupta, who also serves as an executive committee member of Olam International, the Singapore-based agricul- tural conglomerate with operations in 21 African countries.“We look at what each coun- try can transformandwhere they can be com- petitive on a global scale.”

Togo’s cotton potential Arise IIP signed an agreement with the Togolese government to develop the Adetikopé Industrial Platform(PIA)—a rawmaterial and agro-processing hub located within 30kmof the capital Lome’s deepwater container port due to open its doors in June 2021. Set across a 400-hectare site, the PIA will be

fully powered by 40MWof solar energy, with storage, and focus on transformation of cotton and Togo’s other agriproducts, such as soy- bean, shea nuts and teak. “Togo produces roughly 56,000–66,000

tonnes of cotton per year, but all of this is exported raw,” explains Mr Gupta. “But if you transformthis cotton into finished products, such as garments or home textiles, there could be anything from 40 to 50 times possi- ble value addition. This could create a massive amount of jobs.” MrGupta believes that, whilesmall, Togo

has a definite advantage over other textile-pro- ducing countries, such as Bangladesh, due to being cheaper,more sustainable and traceable. This, he says, is due to the availability of rawcot- ton, cost savings fromlocal transformationand proximity to big markets in Europe and the US. “Togo will be a drop in the ocean across the

trillion-dollar textiles industry, but Africa as a whole has a significant chance to gainmarket share. The entire industrialisation process can be done very sustainably compared to other parts of the world,” he adds.

June/July 2021 Sun city: the PIA will be fully powered by 40MW of solar energy

Africa’s diversification offer Amid concerns over cotton and textile supply chains and the pandemic-induced push by companies to reduce their dependence on one particular geography, Mr Gupta believes that Africa has become an even more attractive investment destination. “I think the pandemic will force manufac-

turing more and more into Africa,” he says, pointing todemographics, climate considera- tions and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that came into being on January 1. As AfCFTA begins to take shape, Mr Gupta

views it “as a journey for another three to four years”, inwhich transformation of rawmateri- als will be crucial. “You will not trade bauxite or rawcotton

among African countries—you need products to trade,” he says. “If [African] countries build the right infrastructure, with the right supply chain linkages and policy frameworks, there will be winners.” Backed by Olamand the Africa Finance

Corporation, Arise IIP developed the Gabon Special Economic Zone, central Africa’s largest timber-processing hub, in partnership with the Gabonese government. Beyond PIA in Togo, it is nowbuilding the Glo-Djigbé Industrial Zone, an agro-processing platformplanned to open in December 2021, in Benin, as well as other free zones in Côte d’Ivoire and Chad. But as Arise IIP builds dedicated industrial

zones across the continent, Mr Gupta reiter- ates the need for co-operation and specialisa- tion. “Rather than everybody trying to com- pete in all areas, countries will need to create regional hubs focused on products in which they have a competitive advantage.”■


Location Lomé, Togo


Area 400 hectares

Focus Cotton and agri-product transformation


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