Working together with Dalberg Advisors, CTA published “The Digitalisation of African Agriculture Report” in June 2019. This was a “first-of-its-kind”, baseline report that highlights the state of digitalisation in enabling the transformation of African agriculture.
The report was distributed through different channels – and reached thousands of readers in Africa and elsewhere. Several months later, CTA conducted this study to assess if the objectives of the report had been achieved. CTA was specifically interested in seeing how the report had been or is being used, and the extent to which the recommendations of the report have been or are being implemented. Next to this, CTA wanted to see if there is a general interest in building upon this work; and thereby generate targeted recommendations for any future actions by those stakeholders wishing to build on CTA’s legacy.
To do this, an online survey was launched in April 2020 and ran for 4 weeks. The survey targeted a diversity of stakeholders – farmers, agribusiness enterprises, ministries, policymakers, digital technology centres, national and international/donor organisations, academia, media, and others. The responses from 156 respondents and a few follow up in-depth interviews with some of the respondents formed the basis for the findings of this report.
Nearly 80 percent of the respondents were aware of the report, mostly learned about it from CTA’s website and its newsletter. Out of this, as high as 75 percent went on to read the report, either the whole version or the executive summary, and largely the electronic version downloaded from the CTA website. This translates to over 25,000 people reading the report within the one-year period when extrapolated to the over 34,000 downloads. Remarkably, 95 percent of those who read the report were either very satisfied or satisfied with it. Not everyone who read the report also used it, but almost 60 percent used or are using it as part of their work. Most of the users are based or working in Africa as the content of the report was focused on African agriculture, working in academic institutions or as part of private business companies, and mainly using the report to support regular research activities, design and implementation of projects or programmes, and private business development.
The opinion of readers indicated that the objectives of the report were largely met. Roughly 90 percent of readers either strongly agreed or agreed to the achievement of the objectives of catalysing interest and engagement in the sector, by showing the current state of digital agricultural innovations in Africa and demonstrating the financial and non-financial opportunities. On showcasing the commercial potential of the D4Ag sector, a sizeable share of readers was however not highly convinced. Respondents found all the seven recommendations of the report to be useful and being implemented. However, they placed a higher value on three of them - business model sustainability, human capital development, and the impact on less-served populations.
On the way forward, the opinion of respondents is that the report needs to be updated and similar work conducted focusing on other continents or themes, particularly women and youth. Most respondents suggested that other organisations should take the lead, building on the work started by CTA. Accordingly, most stakeholders are willing to contribute data and expertise. Unfortunately, funding could be a limitation since only a small fraction working in private business enterprises, regional/international or donor organisations/institutions and ministries or similar public entities are willing to provide financial support.