IsDB Group Joins AfDB, Afreximbank and Partners in Launching the Strategic SAPZs Alliance to Transform

Marrakech, Morocco, 8 November 2023 – The city of Marrakech, today, saw the launch of a strategic alliance that is meant to transform Africa’s agriculture and promote food security in the continent and beyond.   

The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) Alliance was launched during the 2023 Africa Investment Forum (AIF) Market Days; a high-profile international event that has drawn the participation of heads of state, international development players, as well as public and private investors from various parts of Africa and beyond.

The event, co-organized by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the African Development Bank (AFDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and other global partners, follows the recent hosting of the 2023 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Marrakech.

“The Islamic Development Bank Group reaffirms its strong support to the development of agriculture in Africa, in partnership with the AfDB and other major partners, considering the significant external pressures towards the call to end food insecurity and re-establish sustainable livelihoods,” ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol said in his remarks at panel discussion marking the launch of a strategic alliance for SAPZs.

Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol represented IsDB President and Group Chairman, H.E. Muhammad Al Jasser, at the two-day 2023 AIF Market Days. ITFC (the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation) and ICD (the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector) are the affiliate entities of IsDB Group spearheading international trade and private sector development across four continents where IsDB Group member countries are located.

The SAPZs Alliance was launched with opening remarks by Morocco’s Minister of Industry and Trade, H.E. Ryad Mezzour and AfDB Group President, H.E. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. Other speakers at the event were Prof. Benedict Oramah, President, Afreximbank; Dejane Tezane, Director -Agribusiness, UNIDO; Mr. Gagan Gupta, CEO, ARISE IIP; and Dr. Beth Dunford, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, AfDB Group.

SAPZs constitutes only one of the many major projects spearheaded by AIF including those in renewable energy and manufacturing.

IsDB Group, AfDB Group, and other co-financiers have already invested more than US$ 1.5 billion for the establishment of 25 SAPZs in 11 African countries including South Africa and Nigeria.


Once operational, SAPZs will increase food processing efficiency and capacity in agricultural value addition; create employment by promoting investments in agro-industry and agribusiness; and eventually promote local, regional, and international trade.


The Alliance is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at transforming Africa's agricultural sector from subsistence to value addition. It comprises the founders of the African Investment Forum namely the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa50, Africa Finance Corporation, Afreximbank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank as well as Trade and Development Bank.


According to Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, to better support links to broader markets, especially through the SAPZs Alliance, international organizations are required to “define a set of priority actions including incentivizing domestic and regional agricultural production, shifting the narrative from food supplies to resilient food systems, investing in food infrastructure, supporting the de-risking and boosting of critical investments in Africa’s agriculture, scaling up production and marketing, and reducing inefficiencies in global markets.”