AFRIKNOW: The coffee sector in Africa - Impacts on the economy and the environment

The article by Patrick Chabert, President of the International Institute of Coffeeology in the MAGAZINE AFRIKNOW (10_2015).

The coffee sector in Africa is living an important moment in its history. There’s nowadays a great opportunity to rebuild its productive potential thanks to a context of growing global demand, especially from Asia.

Coffee business has become an important topic since the drink became universal and the first worldwide trade product after oil. The current worldwide coffee consumption is 140 million bags (units in Africa). By 2020, it will exceed 175 million bags. There will be a deficit of 35 million bags, most of which will be composed of robusta coffee, given the strong Asian demand that mainly uses freeze-dried coffee, predominantly produced with robusta. Africa has the opportunity to become a leader in this vast market.

However, climate change affects coffee production (mainly Arabica), that can be slowed down if adequate solutions are not taken quickly.


The absence of a program against the consequences of climate change

Low production, due to ignorance of good agricultural practices (the lack of interaction between research centers).

Lack of competitiveness due to poor performance in marketing, due to scarce information-sharing between professionals and the lack of access to current information (price, suppliers, etc.).

Poor awareness of the types of coffee,

Lack of promotional activities.

Waste generated by coffee that has an impact on the environment.

Insufficient mechanisation.


There are many reasons why coffee is an important opportunity for Africa today:

1) Important forecasted growth in world demand by 2020.

2) Cultivation advantages for producers through appropriate techniques based on:

A) A deep analysis of the environment, to evaluate the vulnerability of the farms to pathogens.

B) Improve the quality of the soil through the use of natural methods of cultivation that optimize production and quality of coffee.

C) The creation of plus-value, with a label that is perfectly matched to growing consumers’ demand.

D) The creation of wealth and jobs in rural areas.


Circular economy allows us, at every stage of production, to reuse obtained components including ‘’waste”, to create new supplies in at least three ways:

  • Material recovery: the creation of secondary raw materials.
  • Energy recovery: the creation of electrical or thermal energy.
  • Biological enhancement: the creation of compost and bioactive components.



President of the International Institute of Coffeeology