AG-Platforms in East Africa: National and regional policy gaps

Aarti Krishnan, Karishma Banga and Joseph Feyertag, July 2020


The growth of the platform economy, within agriculture, is increasingly becoming an important pathway to development. In the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, this is critical as, according to Cleland (2017), about 65% of the population relies on farming and about 20% on the non-agricultural informal sector; only around 15% are wage earners working in services and less than 3% are employed in industry. Agricultural digital platforms (such as farming apps) are driving e-commerce and the servicification of agriculture in developing regions. Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe have been described as hotspots for digital-tech solutions (GSMA, 2018). Of these, Ag-platforms, or farming apps, are some of the most common forms through which farmers have been ‘platformised’ in agricultural value chains. Our research paper on ‘AgriTech Disruptors in East Africa’ shows that, of a sample of 70 AgriTech innovative firms (e.g. Ag biotech, Precision Ag and robotics, innovative food and data-connected agriculture) in 2018 in the East African Community (EAC), between 66% and 86% of firms specialised in data-connected agriculture – that is, farming apps or providing enabling services for app development (Krishnan et al., 2020).

This report aims to discuss how various business models of Ag-platforms can be used to bridge national and regional policy gaps in East Africa, drawing on case study evidence from Uganda and Rwanda.

Photo: A farmer tilling the land on his farm. Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank. Licence: (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)