Africa ‘must industrialise to boost economic development’

23 May 18

Africa must focus more on industrialisation to boost economic development, the president of the African Development Bank has said.

Akinwumi Adesina warned that the region is “de-industrialising” and called on African countries to learn from Korea, China and Japan – countries that have used industrialisation as a way to boost the economy.

“Africa needs to industrialise and add value to everything that it produces – from agriculture, to minerals, oil, gas and metals,” the AFDB president said in his address to the annual meetings of the board of governors in Butan, Korea, on Wednesday.  

“Africa needs to move up the bottom to the top of the global value chains,” he added.  

“To drive its industrialisation process, Africa must quickly build a globally competitive, well-educated, highly skilled workforce for the future. And the future already here. We cannot afford to waste any more time.”  

Between 2012 and 2018, Africa’s industrial value-added declined from $702bn to $630bn, Adesina pointed out.

In Nigeria, the value-added dropped by 41%, South Africa saw a decline of 26%, 67% in Egypt and Algeria 67%.

Although, he added, some countries were doing well. Morocco’s industrial output expanded by 16% while Ethiopia’s value-added grew five-fold.

Ethiopia, the region’s second most populated country, is currently sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest growing economy. The IMF predicts the economy to grow by 8.5% this year.

The bank plans to invest $35bn over the next ten years to help the region industrialise.

Last year the bank allocated $1.2bn to industrialisation in Africa.

The plan should help Africa raise its industrial gross domestic product a little more than

$700bn today to over $1.72trn by 2030, Adesina said.

This would raise Africa’s GDP to above $5.6trn, he added.

Africa should also invest more in education and training to further build the “skills of the future”, which will help “the industrial revolution in the future”, Adesina said.

He warned that industrialisation can be harmful for the environment and called for countries to “pay careful attention to less polluting energy pathways”.

The bank is to triple its climate financing to 40% of its work by 2020.

AFDB and the United Nations Development Organisation signed a memorandum of understanding this week to boost Africa’s industrialisation.


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