‘Nigeria, others need to deepen manufacturing sector for resilience’
Despite the continent’s endowment in terms of human, agriculture,mining, and maritime resources, harnessing such through a resource-based industrialization strategy as well as by broadening and deepening the manufacturing sector is expected to build more resilient economies.
This was the position of development agencies during the commemoration of the Africa industrialization day.According to the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), industrialization is pivotal to Africa’s long-term development and this will require investment in both soft and hard infrastructure, focusing on energy production, transport and ICTs, and improving regulatory environment to stimulate competition.
The bank in its message to commemorate that day added that industrial development will simultaneously require coordinated actions in various areas of the economy, including the establishment of forward and backward linkages, particularly with the agriculture and mining sectors. Industrial parks and clusters can especially play an important role unleashing Africa’s growth potential.
“Africa is a land of opportunity. The continent is well endowed with natural resources necessary for a resource-based industrialization. The continent is sitting on more than US$82 trillion in discovered natural resources, with the potential to contribute US$30 billion a year in government revenues over the next 20 years.
“However, many countries continue to export raw materials with little value addition. Transforming the agriculture sector in Africa towards agro-allied industrialization could open markets worth more than US$100 billion a year by 2025. Agribusiness can thus be the engine of Africa’s structural transformation while creating decent non-agricultural jobs, increasing income, feeding Africa, and alleviating poverty. Therefore, agribusiness can be the engine of Africa’s structural transformation while creating decent non-agricultural jobs, increasing income, feeding Africa, and alleviating poverty”, AfDB added.
While the demand for manufactured goods is growing, the bank noted that African economies remain import-dependent for even basic products, ranging from apparel to shoes and electronics.
“The Bank’s ‘Industrialize Africa’ represents Africa’s bold vision and ambitious strategy to truly transform the continent. The objective of this industrialization strategy is to facilitate a shift from low to high productivity activities – from agriculture to agro-industries; raw mineral resources to high-value semi-processed/or processed exports.
“The overarching objective is to help raise industrial GDP by 130% by 2025 (15% per annum) to US$1.72 trillion and drive Africa’s overall GDP from US$ 2.2 trillion to US$ 4.6 trillion. In turn, this will raise GDP per capita growth by 4% per annum.
This will require increasing capacity of African firms to compete regionally and globally by building capacity of and increase funding to SMEs. At country level, bold structural reforms are needed to improve the business environment and upgrade labour and entrepreneurship skills as well as production technology”, it added.
The Publisher and Chairman of The Guardian Newspaper, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, had at the maiden edition of The Guardian Manufacturing Excellence Awards, noted that leaders, both present and aspiring, need to be worried if the manufacturing sector is weak or non-existent.
According to her, despite being an oil rich nation, jobs cannot be created neither can the value of the currency be improved without manufacturing.Noting that manufacturing has been the key to prosperity of many industrialised nations, she urged industry players to look beyond the environmental and operational challenges they encounter and play the game on the basis of agility, responsiveness and innovation.
“It is well known that in our society, manufacturing poses a huge challenge because of near absence of critical infrastructure that should ease the primary sector. What is worse, electricity is not even available for domestic use not alone for industrial undertaking”, she said.
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