Addis Ababa, 18 March 2014 (ECA) - The Seventh Joint AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will be held on 25-30 March 2014 in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. Organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Nigerian government, the conference will bring together African ministers responsible for finance, economy and economic development, as well as governors of central banks and key leaders from the private sector.
With the theme: “Industrialization for Inclusive and Transformative Development in Africa”, the conference’s objective is to provide a platform for policy makers to articulate proposals for speeding up the implementation of the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA) and increase commitment and actions to advance Africa’s industrial development agenda.
“Building on the Joint Annual Session (2013) held in Abidjan, this conference will be an opportunity to identify challenges that need to be addressed at the national, regional, continental, and international levels to promote the coherent industrial development of Africa,” says Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the (ECA). In 2013 member states were urged to adopt coherent industrial policies, create institutional industrial policy mechanisms and coordinate line ministries to improve policy implementation.
The 2014 Economic Report on Africa, jointly produced by the ECA and the AUC, will also be launched during the meeting. The theme of this year’s report is “Dynamic industrialization in Africa: innovative institutions, effective processes and flexible mechanisms.” Stressing the importance of industrialization as a “precondition for Africa to achieve inclusive economic growth,” the report offers an institutional framework for designing and implementing industrial policy in Africa. The rationale for industrialization in Africa is grounded in the fact that most African economies concentrate economic activity in the extractive and commodity-producing sectors. In turn, the capital-intensive nature of the sector and the limited inter sectoral linkages between the primary sector and other sectors of the economy create limited opportunities for value chain development, value addition and job creation. Moreover, the primary sectors are characterized by low productivity and low wages which render employees vulnerable to poverty.
While countries are making concerted efforts in this regard, experts recognize that the road to industrialization is paved with challenges such as productivity and competitiveness necessary to take advantage of globalization and transform economies. Also, lack of infrastructure and technological advancement are constraints to doing business and undermines productivity.
“Reversing the status quo and making advances in technology or infrastructure will not happen by chance in the continent. Well thought out strategies with adequate allocation of resources in R&D, for instance, are required,” says Mr. Lopes.