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LIDC-Royal African Society debate: 'Beyond Aid. Britain, Africa and Agriculture - Who benefits?'

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 18:00 to 19:30

Venue: Houses of Parliament

Africa is home to 60 per cent of the world’s available arable land, yet the continent is a net importer of agricultural products, with food production having remained stagnant since the 1970s. Also, somewhat paradoxically, out of the 30 fastest growing agricultural economies, 17 are in Sub-Saharan Africa, so who is really benefiting from the continent’s green revolution?

Britain is a key player in Africa, with UK-Africa bilateral trade in goods exceeding £20 billion. However, are these dealings of mutual benefit?

Are Britons helping Kenya by buying Kenyan green beans and flowers? Does producing for export harm regional and local agriculture in Africa? What are the effects of EU subsidies on African agriculture?

Ultimately, how can we use trade policy to benefit both Africa and the UK?


Christie Peacock, former CEO, FARM-Africa; Chairperson, Sidai Africa Ltd

Mark Thomas, Project Director, Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund, DFID; Nathan Associates London Ltd

Karima Ola, Managing Director of the African Development Corporation

Moderator: Richard Dowden, Director, Royal African Society

Debate summary:


Britain’s non-aid policies and activities in Africa can have a far greater impact on the economies and governance of African countries than official development aid.

Against this backdrop, LIDC and its partner Royal African Society (RAS) organised a debate on ‘Britain, Africa and Agriculture – Who benefits?’ hosted at the UK Parliament.

The debate, moderated by Richard Dowden, the Director of RAS, featured prominent experts on Africa and agriculture: Christie Peacock, former CEO, FARM-Africa and Chairman at Sidai Africa Ltd; Mark Thomas, Project Director of DFID’s Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund, and Director for Rural Development at Nathan Associates London Ltd; and Karima Ola, Managing Director of the African Development Corporation.

The speakers discussed, among others, whether Britain’s relationship with Africa is dictated by aid, whether turning Africa into a food exporter is helpful to African economic development, whether EU subsidies are hurting Africa’s export market, and others.

Read a detailed summary
Download an audio recording of the event
More about the Beyond Aid debate series