Africa Needs to Industrialise to Create Jobs for the People, Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
By Richard Adorsu-
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) Accra- Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), has reiterated that Africa needs to industrialize to create jobs for the people.
He said Africa’s population was young and growing fast, with a population of about 1.3 billion, it was the second highest after Asia.
Speaking at a public lecture on the theme, “Creating the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs through AfCFTA”. Mr Mene informed that due to the rapid rural-urban migration, the population in cities would triple by 2050.
“If there are no productive jobs for these people, the fight against poverty will be lost given that the most important determinant of whether someone in Africa is in poverty, or not, is whether they have a job,” Mr. Mene stated.
He said indications were that 10 to 12 million young Africans join the labor force each year, yet the continent creates only 3.7 million jobs annually.
He said many countries, businesses and organizations had begun to address this problem, using tools from progressive policy-making to innovative finance, adding that however, over 60 per cent of young people across Africa still remain unemployed.
Mr. Mene argued that industrialization was crucial for African countries to transform their economies, create jobs, add value and promote trade through greater integration into regional/global value chains.
He said Africa, despite failing to industrialize in the past, might have a new window of opportunity.
This, he said, was due to the convergence of three factors – new technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR); a resurgence of start-up entrepreneurship in Africa; and the launch and commencement of the AfCFTA.
In this regard, industrialization was crucial for African countries to transform their economies, add value and promote trade through greater integration into regional/global value chains.
Mr. Mene said when countries in North America, Western Europe and Asia experienced similar demographic pressures in their past, industrialization enabled them to create jobs and welfare simultaneously. “Indeed, the African Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063 recognizes industrialization as essential for the realization of the goal of ‘A Prosperous Africa Based on Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development,” he said.
Adding that, industrialization features prominently in the AU’s First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (2014-2023) and earlier in the AU’s “Action Plan for Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa.”
He said Africa’s industrialization policies rested on manufacturing, “thanks to its multiplier
effect on other sectors of the economy.”
Mr. Mene said manufacturing was the “engine of growth” which enhanced higher levels of productivity and greater technical change, thus creating more jobs with higher wages for both women and men.
He said however, “industrialization in 21st century Africa calls for innovative strategies that go beyond sectoral approaches that target only manufacturing. Africa can industrialize by promoting all economic sectors that have potential for high growth and employment creation.”
He said certain tradable services and farming activities such as horticulture and the agro-industry production methods, for instance, had become comparable to those of conventional manufacturing.
Concluding, he called for Africa’s innovative industrialization strategies to include high-potential entrepreneurial activities to achieve outcomes.
For New Africa Business News Richard Adorsu Reports, Africa Correspondent
AFRICA’S MOST READ AND FASTEST GROWING GLOBAL NEWSPAPER – www.newafricabusinessnews.com