Manufacturing can play a key role in sustained economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction in Africa. Agricultural machinery manufacturing can contribute to driving overall manufacturing, given the large number of gradually mechanizing African farms and the rapidly growing agro-food processing sector. But harnessing these potentials in today’s globalized world requires manufacturers to compete with manufacturing powerhouses such as China and India. This paper examines the characteristics, opportunities, and challenges of local agricultural machinery manufacturers in Africa based on a survey among randomly chosen manufacturers (N=386) in Benin, Kenya, Mali, and Nigeria. To further explore the factors and actors being key to the success of manufacturers, the surveys were supplemented with two qualitative methods: 1) 45 net-maps, a participatory appraisal method to map the factors, actors, and bottlenecks affecting the enabling environment of local manufacturing; and 2) 97 key-informant interviews, a method that enables additional in-depth discussions from key stakeholders. These results show that local manufacturers have several comparative advantages, in particular, related to the ability to develop locally adapted machinery, an aspect that is of much higher importance related to agricultural manufacturing than other types of manufacturing. This resonates with the experiences of other world regions where vibrant markets for local machinery were key during agricultural mechanization. The results show that markets for local machinery have also emerged in Africa, driven by small but dedicated entrepreneurs. However, these manufacturers are held back by a range of challenges related to production factors such as finance, human resources, utilities, raw materials, production equipment, and the regulatory environment (i.e., import regulations, testing, and certification). The paper derives important new insights into how to ensure a supportive, enabling environment to help local manufacturers harness their comparative advantages and to make “Made in Africa” the first choice of African farmers and agro-food processors.
Published as Hohenheim Working Papers on Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development Nr. 014-2022.