The 2014 edition of the Economic Commission for Africa flagship report was launched Monday in Addis Ababa, with the unanimous view that industrialization is crucial to Africa’s continued development. Aptly themed, “Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa,” the Report outlines several key messages, including the crucial fact that “industrial policy in Africa is essential if we are to address market failures and build capabilities within the continent.”In remarks at the opening, Mr. Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary of the ECA reiterated Africa’s current narrative of economic progress and successful development and said, “We are witnessing a growth assertiveness on the continent that has resulted in better macroeconomic performance like never before.”
Citing the development of mobile banking in Kenya, Mr. Hamdok added that African countries are now making such great strides in technology that they are becoming exporters of technology. Yet as cautioned by Hamdok, the continent still faces challenges on its path to industrialization. He told the forum that African countries must now depart from the past and institute a different kind of industrial policy framework. “This is why we continue to dig further on this particular theme, because it was not enough to make the case for industrialization, we have to demonstrate how it should be done,” he said.
He highlighted several vital findings of the report, including the fact that industrial policy goals must be driven by priorities. “The common underlying imperative is that State support is vital to addressing market failures and institutionalizing industrial policy at the highest levels of government so that it becomes part and parcel of the regular decision-making and monitoring mechanism, stressed Hamdok.“It is possible for African countries to become industrialized and more so, that this is the time for it to happen as the ERA 2014 tries to demonstrate,” he added.
For his part, the Director of ECA’s Macroeconomic Policy Division, Mr. Adam Elhiraika emphasized that Africa’s growth story “is not just an oil and ineral story as countries without these resources are growing economically similar to their counterparts.”
“In Africa, trade within the continent is more conducive to growth because it is more diversified and more industrialized,” he said and mentioned that ganda is currently the main trading partner to Kenya.Mr. Elhraika presented the report’s outcomes, stating the requirements for a successful industrial policy framework. These include among others, the need for the framework to be dynamic and organic; to foster continuous dialogue between the country’s public and private sector and the assurance of high level coordination and political support from the country’s government.
In response to the report, Mr. Ahmed Nuru, Special Adviser to the Ethiopia’s State Minister for Industry, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia said that Africa has been on a growth trajectory for the past decade. “The role of the government is very key in terms of filling the gaps of industrialization within the continent”, he said.
Mr Endalkachew Sime, Deputy Secretary General and Advocacy Department Manager, Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association told the forum that “there is a delicate balance to be dealt with in promoting private sector development in Africa and industrialization is all about advocating resources for better development.”
Mr Nebil Kellow, Chief Executive Officer of First Consult in Ethiopia recommended the need for African governments to be clear areas of focus in relation to the quest for effective industrialization as the sector, industry and country involved is all equally relevant. He said that the roles of leading enterprises and the understanding of their capabilities are crucial to industrialization.