Commodity-based industrialization is a must for Cameroon and other African countries – Economic Report on Africa 2013

Yaounde, 4 June 2013 (ECA) – This year’s Economic Report on Africa, jointly published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC), identifies inclusive growth and job creation as major challenges for the continent due to its perennial dependence on the exportation of raw materials. The report, which will be officially launched in Central Africa at the campus of the University of Yaounde II, in Soa next Thursday, June 13, urges African countries to engage in commodity-based industrialization. This call is particularly relevant to the central African sub-region in general, and Cameroon in particular.

Focusing on the theme “Making the Most of Africa’s Commodities: Industrializing for Growth, Jobs and Economic Transformation”, the report treats several issues including a case study on the cocoa sector in Cameroon. It reveals that the country’s cocoa sector is largely dominated by exporters of unfinished products, namely raw cocoa beans. Despite the interest and efforts by the country to promote the local transformation of the beans, the report notes, the there is still very little value-addition in the sector. If anything, efforts at local transformation only result in semi-finished products that must undergo further processing abroad. This limits the country’s potential benefits from the sector.

To deal headlong with this problem, government authorities across Africa in general and Cameroon in particular, are called upon to devise policy measures that would help local enterprises not only to become key actors in the local and regional chains of value addition, but to be more competitive. To stimulate forward and backward linkages within the commodity sector of the economy, African nations must seek ways to remove barriers to doing business and deal squarely with administrative bottlenecks.   

Cameroon and the rest of Africa, the report adds, should invest in the development of the skills necessary for transformation and help upgrade the technological capabilities of linkage firms.  Policy makers on the continent will also need to better negotiate regional trade arrangements and improve policy implementation through coordination among relevant ministries. They should deepen their understanding of the technical characteristics of global value chains as well as the structure of the industry in order to make their countries benefit more from it sustainably.  

Issued by:
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