A UN economic report says sweeping political and economic changes over the last half century have set the stage for Africa’s emergence as a global economic power and the continent should take advantage of that opportunity through a commodity-based industrialization strategy.
A UN statement on the report made available to PANA in New York on Wednesday stated that massive industrialization based on commodities in Africa was imperative, possible, and beneficial.
The 2013 edition of the Economic report on Africa was co-authored by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU).
It noted that the report, entitled, “Making the most of Africa’s Commodities: Industrialization for Growth, Jobs and Economic Transformation”, argued that Africa needed to frame specific policy for commodity-based industrialization for each country to ensure initiatives that fostered linkage development and accelerated that process.
The statement said that process should leverage Africa’s abundant resources and high commodity prices and the changing global production process.
“Individually and collectively, African countries must embark on a ‘bold transformation’
towards a commodity-based industrialization strategy that would allow the continent to take charge of its own development.”
The report said the transformation was necessary if African countries were to be able to address youth unemployment, poverty and gender disparities, and other challenges.
The report also set out ways African countries can design and implement industrial and other development policies to promote value addition and economic transformation and to reduce their dependence on producing and exporting unprocessed commodities.
“Making the most of Africa’s commodities requires appropriate development planning frameworks and effective industrial policies that are evidence-based and take into account what influences linkage breadth and depth, as well as the structural and country-specific linkage drivers,” the report said.
It said by adding value to their raw materials locally, African countries could bring about diversification of technological capabilities, an expanded skills base and deepened industrial structures in individual countries.
The statement disclosed that the primary data for the report were collected and country case studies prepared for nine African countries in the five sub-regions, namely Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
According to the report while some of those nations had made modest progress in forward and backward linkages to their commodity sectors, others still had some ground to cover.
It also added that interventionist state policies and continental initiatives could help improve the situation.
To further boost current levels of linkages, the ECA-AU report called for urgent moves to reduce the infrastructural constraints and bottlenecks on the continent.
The report also recommended improved policy implementation through coordination among relevant ministries in order to reduce the incidence of coordination failure, which had for long plagued the continent.