African leaders urged to drive job creation through industrialisation
Ahead of the African Union (AU) summit on industrialisation and economic diversification, African leaders and policy makers have been urged to prioritise actions that are critical for driving economic prosperity and job creation through industrialisation.
They were urged to implement national industrial policies that would stimulate investments into sectors that are both competitive and labour-intensive, while national policies should provide for well-targeted tax incentives that can attract investors and spur job creation.
As the summit holds this month in Niger, ONE Campaign, a global organisation campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, advocated bold policy actions to tap youth potential towards building a better and prosperous Africa.
It stated that with the continent’s booming young population that accounts for about 60 per cent, Africa needed to create about 15 million new decent jobs yearly.
It said the summit must accept the reality that Africa is made up of a dynamic, vibrant and productive population, who are the continent’s biggest asset and driver of economic growth and social development.
Regionally, the group said the top priority was for countries to foster investment and trade by operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched in January 2021.
According to it, once fully implemented, AfCFTA will create a single African market for goods and services, covering about 1.4 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion across Africa.
Among its demands to be given top priority at the summit, the group called for an improvement in business environment to make it easy and affordable to produce goods and services, as well as to trade.
It said African countries can start by adopting AU protocols on free movement, allowing youth to access markets and compete freely for work and business across national borders.
It also called for investment in cleaner infrastructure that supports industrialisation, jobs creation and income generation, as well as expanding road and transport networks to open up connectivity to rural areas and the regional hinterland.
It called for clean and renewable off-grid energy solutions to complement national plans that would improve access to reliable and affordable power.
It urged that countries should incentivise investments to achieve 90 per cent Internet penetration across Africa by 2030.
“National level legislation should establish equity and guarantee funds to de-risk investment in start-ups. Laws should also protect intellectual property rights, simplify and automate administrative procedures, harmonise tax administration and make information readily available through one-stop digital platforms.
“At the local level, smallholder farmers should be facilitated to produce aggregation centres for grading, storage, sales and processing of their goods to boost incomes and minimise wastage. They should also be facilitated to access credit, subsidised loans, grants and financial services.