This is an illustration/demonstration of important ways that strategic Pan-African partnerships via the Food Security and Food Policy Information Portal for Africa once fully operating, will be able to lend strategic support to African country-level AMIS to solve these problems.
Agri-food price and supply outlook information systems, commonly referred to as AMIS's, are an important food system public good in both developed and developing countries around the world. While many developed countries also have private market information and information providers, all of these are dependent upon basic public market price and production outlook information upon which targeted and additive private analysis, insight and information value is then marketed to paying clients.
Many African countries already have public-provided/supported AMIS operating while other countries are planning and/or developing such strategic market system services. AMIS programs receive mostly public sector support, but can also over time develop private sector sources of support for selected products and services. Yet a difficult challenge for AMIS development has been and continues to be how to gain and sustain the necessary longer-term public support for AMIS services as necessary fundamental institutional building blocks that undergird well-functioning reformed and efficient private market systems.
Importantly, experience around the world in meeting this challenge is clear in showing that one of the most fundamental ways a national-level AMIS can gain longer-term support is by focusing on both the supply and demand for information by constantly perfecting an approach to deliver timely and accurate information services to public as well as private clients. If clients are receiving useful services, they will; (1) pressure national governments to continue public support; and (2) they will increasing consider ways to provide selected private support for selected additional information products. From a food system development perspective, there is a premium on what national and international support organizations and donors can do to help build up the human capital and organizational capacity of national-level AMIS programs as part of helping countries to build lasting public institutions and foundations under private marketing systems.
There are a number of long-standing efforts by donor and international Organizations, such as FAO, CTA, USAID-MSU, GTZ, EU and others who have provided technical assistance and financial resources to assist in country-level AMIS development.
Complementing these efforts, a number of international public and private organizations have developed their own web-based portals for displaying marketing information collected/obtained from country-level offices, and also compiling/developing commodity marketing advice (FoodNet, AFAMIN, TradeAfrica.Biz). The concepts discussed herein for AMIS Africa-Online do not substitute for these centralized and donor-driven efforts, but complement them with a set of AMIS services that capture economies of scale and that are aimed at assisting country-level programs to improve their own AMIS and its outreach. These national support services are especially aimed at helping country-level AMIS programs gain additional national and regional visibility among key AMIS private as well as public clients.
Once AMIS Africa-Online is operating, the Food Security and Food Policy Information Portal For Africa, hosted by UNECA-Addis Ababa, will (could) offer the following information hosting/sharing services to AMIS programs in ECA member countries.
1. A Distributed and Online Content Information System for Helping National AMIS Offices Create Timely and Efficient HTML Files of Market Bulletins Implemented via Common Word Processing Software
2. Posting Country-Level Reports to the AMIS Africa-Online
3. Integration of Online Language Informational Translation into AMIS Africa-Online
4. Integration of AMIS Africa-Online into the Food Security and Food Policy Information Portal for Africa developed and maintained by UNECA and partners.