African ministers express determination to raise productivity, increase employment

Abuja, 30 March  2014 (ECA) - African finance, planning and economic development ministers today in Abuja resolved to make the necessary efforts to increase productivity for investment and growth rate of the agricultural, manufacturing and modern services sectors in order to boost employment on the continent.

They also pledged to address the problem of securing long-term financing for investing in manufacturing, including by reviving development banking and re-adjusting financial markets to make them more supportive of Africa’s industrialization efforts.

They took these decisions at the end of the ministers’ two-day meeting in the Nigerian capital. The theme of the conference was industrialization for inclusive and transformative development of Africa.

“Industrialization is one of the most viable paths to employment-generating growth and development” necessary for the structural transformation of the continent, the ministers declared. While Africa’s growth rate has been among the highest in the world recently, African policy makers are concerned that the growth has not been inclusive while inequality has widened considerably.

 “In order to accelerate employment growth, large sectors with high employment elasticity need to constitute the main engine of growth,” the ministers said. “We will also encourage the inflow of quality foreign direct investment which contributes to the expansion of domestic production, the diversification of exports, the transfer of technology, the upgrading of local skills, the development of local innovation, and the deepening of economic linkages.”

Meeting for the first time on the sidelines, Africa’s central bank governors also focused on structural transformation on the continent, promising to support inclusive and transformative growth policies and dynamic initiatives designed to actualize Africa’s industrialization.

They urged members to use monetary, credit and exchange rate policies to support the growth of industrialization to combat poverty and unemployment as is done in India, China and Cambodia. Equally, the central bankers advised that the disconnect between the financial system and the real sector has to be addressed if Africa is to experience any meaningful industrialization.

Speaking at the end of the deliberations, Nigeria’s Finance Minister and chairperson of the session, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, joined the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa in praising participants and officials for a successful conference. “We have set a very high bar in terms of interactions and what to expect,” she said. “We mustn’t let the quality slip.”

The highlight of today’s meeting was the launch of the Economic Report on Africa 2014, an annual co-production of the ECA and the AU. This year’s report is titled “Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa: Innovative Institutions, Effective Processes and Flexible Mechanisms.”


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