Planning and implementation are key to manufacturing success
Kigali, Rwanda – Technology will allow Africans to develop, but it may be at the expense of inclusive growth, said panellists at a session on Boosting Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth on the opening day of the World Economic Forum on Africa, held last week.
According to the discussions Africans have what it takes to succeed, but need to set measurable goals and implement their plans.
It was discussed that the continent, which has billion people, has just 1.5% of global manufacturing output. Productivity levels are lower than the global average and the labour pool is largely unskilled, which presents challenges for the industrialization of the continent. While technology will enable Africa to develop faster in many respects, it is important to balance this with the need to create labour-intensive industries to create jobs and not leave people behind.
Africans also need to believe they can industrialize and set tangible and measurable goals to this end, participants heard.
Ally Angula, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Leap Holdings Namibia, Namibia, said, “It is a myth that it is okay to be a micro-business.”
“Africans just need to believe they can manufacture goods themselves because the main opportunity lies in the production of goods for African consumers. The opportunity is not only being undermined by the high cost of doing business and a lack of reliable energy, but also by the lack of implementation of plans and policies,”she added.
Johan Aurik, Global Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney, USA, said Africa’s rapid population growth is a key driver of innovation and growth. But, despite the size of the potential market, the percentage of GDP represented by manufacturing is still low – 9% in Nigeria, 12% in Kenya and just 8% in Zambia, compared to 30% in China.
“Africa doesn’t exploit its scale,” Aurik said, suggesting that much more needs to be done to deregulate trade and improve infrastructure and energy supply. Improving Africa’s manufacturing capability requires a complex array of interventions by multiple stakeholders. This is a long process, but generating more value addition in agriculture and natural resources could have a significant effect on growth and employment.
Furthermore, Geoffrey Qhena, Chief Executive Officer, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), South Africa, emphasized the need for governments to align education with new emerging sectors and the needs of the broader economy in order to make growth more inclusive.
More than 1200 delegates from over 70 countries took part in the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda. The theme of the meeting was “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”.