New York City – A new non-profit network of centers to facilitate research and training in African agribusiness, established in association with MIT and the Harvard Kennedy School, will be represented by the global law firm of Sidley Austin LLP and its pro bono Asia-Africa Agricultural Enterprise Project. Africa Atlantic Holdings Chairman Issa Baluch, a Senior Fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, Africa Atlantic CEO Jon Vandenheuvel, and MIT Associate Provost, Dr. Wesley Harris, along with Sidley Austin attorney Elizabeth Uwaifo, made the joint announcement today at the Global AgInvesting Conference held in New York City.
“The African Agribusiness Knowledge Center Network is a collaborative effort bringing together private investors, multinational companies, non-profits, and governments from all over the world to empower African farmers as entrepreneurs. Sidley Austin is a law firm with the vision, expertise, global network and professionalism to provide the legal frameworks needed to allow all international stakeholders to work together effectively,”
said Baluch and Vandenheuvel. “MIT is pleased that Sidley Austin has chosen to support the legal framework for this critical initiative, which is a priority African development initiative for our institution as well,” added Dr. Harris.
Sidley Austin LLP will support the formation of the non-profit entities, contracts, and structures needed to facilitate the financing and development of the African Agribusiness Knowledge Center Network. Sidley attorney Elizabeth Uwaifo, a partner in the London, UK office, was instrumental in facilitating this alliance. “Private investment in African agriculture is poised for dramatic growth,” said Uwaifo. “Knowledge and collaboration of international stakeholders, from private, public and non-profit sectors, is critical to the successful execution of these investments, in primary production, processing, equipment and mechanization, and human resource empowerment. Sidley is proud to support the Knowledge Center Network and its collaboration with MIT and Harvard Kennedy School in this timely initiative.”
The flagship Agribusiness Knowledge Center facility will be located on Lake Volta, in Ghana, at the 10,497-hectare (25,927-acre) farm site of Africa Atlantic Franchise Farms Limited Ghana (AAFF). The land for the Knowledge Center facility will be provided by AAFF and will help fulfill a commitment to support the development of the agribusiness industry sector shared by Africa Atlantic Franchise Farms Local Partner, Dr. Edward Appah, MD, and Africa Atlantic Managing Director Kristopher Klokkenga. “The Knowledge Center, along with the commercial farm investment, helps fulfill my lifelong dream of returning to my homeland to bring private investment and education and empowerment to the people of Ghana,” said Dr. Appah, a retired medical doctor who built his career in Germany and returned to Ghana in 2007 to support economic development in the Kwahu area. “Strengthening the skills of the African farming industry, and building greater understanding among global investors in African agribusiness, is something we are committed to,” added Klokkenga, who spent his earlier career in agricultural processing and logistics with Archer Daniels Midland and Wilmar before co-founding Africa Atlantic Holdings, and now runs Africa Atlantic’s farming enterprises in Ghana.