Food safety is poised to play a key role in Africa’s agricultural transformation due increased demand for food fueled by the continent’s rapid population growth and the entry into force of the exciting era of the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) Area Agreement. Within the broader context of Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) measures, food safety presents an enormous opportunity for food trade under the AfCFTA since over 75% of trade in Africa is dominated by agriculture products. However, Africa’s food safety records remain the worst compared to other regions, and accounts for 30% of global deaths associated with foodborne illnesses. Consumption of unsafe food accounts for approximately 137,000 deaths and about 91 million cases of acute foodborne illnesses on an annual basis in Africa, the highest estimates worldwide. Moreover, these foodborne diseases affect disproportionately the most vulnerable of the society, the infants, young children (under five years), pregnant women, the elderly and immunocompromised people. Besides the human suffering caused by foodborne illnesses, the economic impact on African economies due to unsafe foods is staggering.
A situation which if not addressed could seriously jeopardize the attainment of the goals set in the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture growth and Transformation because of the cost of lost productivity to African economies the cost of lost opportunities in agriculture food trade gains that could prevent the achievement of the goal set of tripling intra-African trade by 2025.
The Food Safety Strategy of Africa (FSSA) will provide a harmonized framework to implement activities that mitigate various food safety threats that negatively impact consumers’ health. The strategy will help to address non-tariff barriers, particularly those related to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures or standards that have the potential of slowing down the attainment of the Malabo Declaration aspirations and ultimately the African Union Agenda 2063 and related flagship programmes impacted by food safety. An additional benefit of the strategy will be reduction of duplication of efforts, facilitating synergy leveraging on resources and capabilities, and enhancing lesson learning and best practices. This strategy is developed as a tool for the implementation of the Continental SPS Policy Framework for Africa endorsed by AU policy organs in 2020.