With its 500 million work force expected to increase to 676 million workers by 2030, according to the International Labour Organization, Africa can take advantage of the demographic dividend if it fixes some of its fundamentals including increased government policy support for industrial development.
The Industrialization in Africa conference that was organized by IndustriALL Global Union’s sub Saharan region recommended how government policies can promote interlinkages between production and trade in goods and services, technological innovation, investing in manufacturing, redesigning products, and lower transport costs.
Further, infrastructure, skills and stronger institutions were identified as key. Participants at the conference said these changes were necessary for Africa to compete in the global value chains.
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary says:
“Sustainable industrialization has the potential to create employment, especially in the manufacturing sectors of African economies. With more decent jobs that pay living wages, we believe that poverty will be eradicated. Currently Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest poverty levels especially in low income and conflict-affected countries.
“It also has the highest number of the working poor. Unemployment remains high especially for the youth with most making of them making a living in the informal sector. Sustainable industrialization can reverse this and turn the workers fortune around.”
At below 10 per cent of GDP, Africa’s global manufacturing continues to lag other continents with manufacturing concentrated only in a few countries that include South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco. Manufacturing value addition is also low.
However, there is potential in industries that are based on information and communications technology which will common with Industry 4.0. Such industries give workers skills for the digital economy that include advanced data analysis necessary in future workplaces.
Africa’s heavy manufacturing consist of transport vehicles, appliances, electronics and industrial equipment. Foreign direct investment is also favouring manufacturing. At the African Investment Forum organized by the African Development Bank in Johannesburg, South Africa 13-15 November investors pledged over US$40 billion in various projects that will be implemented in 25 countries.
Textile and garment is another sector important for Africa’s industrialization. In Ethiopia and Kenya global brands are working alongside small and medium scale enterprises to create tens of thousands of jobs.
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