Conference to chart Africa’s industrialization path

Addis Ababa, 06 June 2013 (ECA) - The African Union Commission meeting of senior officials and experts on the theme, ‘Accelerated industrialization for Africa within the Post-2015 Development agenda’ opened in Nairobi, ahead of the arrival of Ministers of Industry this week, against the backdrop of renewed optimism by governments on the potential for industrial development in Africa.

According to ECA reports the continent accounts for a negligible share of global industrial output and manufactured exports. Only few countries present a manufacturing value added ratio to GDP above 25 percent according to reports. In a large number of African countries, the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP is less than 10 per cent and in some cases even lower than 5 per cent.

Despite the continent’s natural resources endowment, the lack of meaningful structural economic transformation from an agro-based economy to an industrialized economy has been a primary issue which hampers Africa’s development. In addition, while much progress has been made, there is a preeminence of low-productivity in agriculture and the extractive sectors.

As such, the current Economic Report on Africa 2013 on Making the Most of Africa’s commodities: Industrializing for Growth, Jobs and Economic Transformation underscores that massive industrialization based on commodities in Africa is imperative, possible, and beneficial. In addition, the report shows that in resource-rich countries commodity-based industrialization is possible despite criticism that it is a hard industrialization path.

“Massive resource-based industrialization through value addition and linkage development will yield employment, income, price, and non price benefits, as well as dynamic benefits of diversified technological capabilities and deeper industrial structure,” say ECA officials.

African countries have already started on the path to industrial development. Optimism remains high that with the endorsement of the Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa – AIDA plan, and the corresponding implementation strategy, countries are getting closer to turning industrial development into reality.

It is expected that this week’s 10-12 Conference will also focus on how the continent can take advantage of new opportunities offered by globalization by preparing enterprises, putting in place policies for upgrading, developing human resources and strengthening its capacities for innovation.

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