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AfDB seeks faster industrialisation of Nigeria, others

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At the forefront of promoting smart industrial policies and mobilising infrastructure development funding for Africa, the African Development Bank on this year’s Africa Industrialization Day, urges the continent to accelerate industrialization for the transformation of African economies.

The African Development Bank counts Industrializing Africa as one of its High-5 key strategic aims, critical for the transformation of African economies, going by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Industrialization, where we add value to what we competitively produce and then export, and also trade among ourselves on the back of the AfCFTA within a market of 1.3 billion people, should be prioritized and delivered,” said Solomon Quaynor, the Bank’s Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialization, in a message marking Africa Industrialisation Day.

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Quaynor stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic had sharpened the need to accelerate industrialization and urged a greater role for the private sector, including as a partner to the public sector.

“Resilience is key, and that means no matter the external shocks in the future, we should rebuild so that our people, particularly youth and women who head our households, have jobs and better incomes,” he said.

The Bank said it is working with African countries that are developing strategies for implementation of the AfCFTA, helping them to build capacity and leverage opportunities provided by freer trade.

When businesses can trade across borders, then industry can expand, economies can diversify, and countries can move up the value chain, according to the Bank’s 2020 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) released last week.

The report suggests that AfDB’s investments in 2019 benefited one million people. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that benefited from the Bank projects trebled their turnover to $1 billion.

Several projects recently approved by the Bank are expected to help regional member countries exploit opportunities, including the construction and operation of a submarine internet cable in Seychelles and a project to expand access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises in West Africa, the report noted.

AfDB is also promoting development of economic zones that bring together an enabling business environment, backbone integrated infrastructure and transport near to agricultural production hubs.

“Agro-Industrial Processing Zones aim to train young people in rural areas with the needed skills and attract companies, particularly SMEs,” said Atsuko Toda, the Bank’s Director, Agricultural Finance and Rural Development.

The pandemic has also spurred opportunities for Africa to strengthen local manufacturing capabilities for basic and essential medicines, Personal Protective Equipment and other medical equipment.

“The Bank is undertaking a ground-breaking study to develop a plan for this, which will be ready before the end of the year. The plan will highlight opportunities, challenges, policy reforms required, financing windows and strategic partnerships to be forged to make this happen,” said Abdu Mukhtar, Director of Industrial and Trade Development at AfDB.

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