Promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation in Africa: a review of progress, challenges and prospects

22 Nov 2017

A strong industrial base is an important pillar for development. Industry can promote inclusive development in terms of sustainable jobs and livelihoods and also with respect to building resilience in the era of globalisation and climate change. The problem in Africa is that the continent remains largely not industrialised. Where it has occurred, it has not been very inclusive and sustainable. There are continental efforts to advance the industrialisation agenda such as the Accelerated Industrialisation Development Action (AIDA) Plan and the pursuit of agro-allied industrialisation. Even though in the last ten years, economic growth rates have increased for a number of countries, most are experiencing low and declining growth. While the state of human development has also improved for most of the continent, over ninety percent of the region falls under the Low Human Development category of countries. Manufacturing Value Added (MVA) in Africa is the lowest globally as the continent continues to be a primary commodity producer and exporter and is vulnerable to economic, financial and political crises. The paper investigates the problem of lack of or limited progress made on industrialisation. It therefore aims to review the progress made in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation in Africa. Its main objectives are i) to assess how the continent has performed thus far with regard to industrialization, focusing on progress and challenges ii) to identify and draw lessons from the strategies and policies which selected countries are pursuing in order to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation iii) to assess the implications in terms of the role of the developmental state. Using secondary data sources, the paper employs a qualitative research methodology. It shows that industrialisation is low overall and that, to a large extent, it has not been inclusive and sustainable. The paper recommends number of strategies to intensify the effort, integrating industrialisation into development planning and budgeting, design and implementation of industrial policies, increasing investments in building an infrastructural base for industry, integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment and youth participation, investing in human capacity for industrialisation, and strengthening partnerships through South-South Cooperation.