Malawi and rest of Africa can become emerging economies to compete on the world stage if they diversify the productive base to enhance industrialization.
Abdalla Hamdok, ECA’s Deputy Executive Secretary was speaking in Abijan, Ivory Coast on Thursday 21 March, at the opening of the Meeting of the Committee of Experts of the 6th Joint Annual meetings of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance.
He told experts that Africa has over the decade moved in the right direction in the area of governance and integration but the next phase is for the continent to step up its efforts to industrialize and create more jobs for its people.
He said the experts meeting in Abijan needed to come up with practical ideas and strategies to guide governments on how they can come with policies that promote accelerated industrialisation.
Hamdok said Africa continues to suffer from high levels of unemployment, particularly among the youth and women partly as a result of heavy dependence on primary commodities, as a sector which by itself cannot create jobs and inclusive growth.
ECA is calling for accelerated industrialization as one of the surest ways of ensuing the sustainability of Africa’s recent economic growth.
“In addition to contributing to sustained wealth creation, related value addition will enable Africa’s products to enter global markets on a more competitive basis,” said Hamdok adding that industry particularly manufacturing has been shown to be fundamentally linked to sustained growth and transformation.
“It has historically provided a good foundation for the acquisition of skills, a major source of jobs and basis for innovation and learning by doing. The evidence from other parts of the world also show that industrialization is a very important means of bringing more and more of our women into the workplace,” he noted.
Smart policies for industrialisation
While acknowledging the vast natural resources potential and the impact these resources can have on Africa, Hamdok called on experts on the need for policies that would promote wider access to the benefits of natural resources so that there is long term transformation on the continent.
Despite some challenges the continent is currently facing Africa’s development prospects are brighter today than they have ever been, said Hamdok.
In an interview, Maxwell Mkwezalamba, outgoing AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs said sound policies and strategies will help countries like Malawi that extractive natural resources to transform through accelerated industrialisation.
He said the AU and the ECA are of the view that accelerating Africa’s industrialization agenda is one way through which the recent economic growth achievements could be sustained.
“Industrialization will also contribute to sustained wealth creation as Africa’s natural resources and other raw materials will be converted into value-added products for export to global markets,” he told The Nation.
The AU economist added that industrialization will help to build competitive economies that can productively be integrated into the global economy.
“Industrialization is therefore a pre-condition if Africa is to register accelerated development,” said Mkwezalamba.
Premier forum for policies
The Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance has become the premier forum on the continent for African Ministers responsible for Finance, Planning and Economic Development as well as Governors of central banks to dialogue on issues pertinent to the development agenda of Africa.
Organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU) and hosted by the Ivorian government, the 6th Joint Annual Meetings is being held under the theme “Industrialisation for an Emerging Africa” and will run from 21-26 March 2013. – MOSES MICHAEL-PHIRI in Abijan, Ivory Coast