Malawi and the rest of Africa can become emerging economies to compete on the world stage if they diversify the productive base to enhance industrialisation.
Abdalla Hamdok, ECA’s deputy executive secretary was speaking in Abijan, Cote d’Ivoire 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 industrialise 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 create 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 industrialisation as one of the surest ways of ensuring 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 has also shown that industrialisation is a very important means of bringing more of our women into the workplace,” he noted.
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 for 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 extract natural resources to transform through accelerated industrialisation.
He said the AU and the ECA are of the view that accelerating Africa’s industrialisation agenda is one way through which the recent economic growth achievements could be sustained.
Organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU) and hosted by the Ivorian government, the 6th Joint Annual Conference of Ministers of Economic Finance Meetings is being held under the theme “Industrialisation for an emerging Africa” and will run from 21 to 26 March 2013.