Africa Brief

Africa needs dynamic Industrial Policies

The 2014 Economic Report on Africa, released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union (AU) highlighted the fact that Africa needs to radically change its policy towards industrialization.

Despite good growth by the African countries in the past ten years, Africa has not seen the results that this growth should be symbolizing. The reason behind this is the fact that most African countries are still relying heavily on primary commodity production, as well as on exports. The report shows that these countries need to instead focus on their industrial policies, to enable economic stability and infrastructure development.

Africa is overly relying on the markets

In order for Africa to start experiencing greater market stability, it needs to rely less on unreliable economic forces, like market fluctuations, and rather focus on areas that will allow Africa to stand on its own feet, no matter what the market is doing.

This is why the recent UN report stressed the need for dynamic industrial policies. Industrial development will safeguard the developing continent from any market falls that could be detrimental to its economic success and social growth.

The growth so far has not been inclusive, and structural transformation on the continent remains limited,” states the report. “Africa’s commodity and investment-driven expansion has not created the jobs to meet the continent’s growing young population, and this growth path has left the continent vulnerable to external commodity prices, demand shocks and internal weaknesses.”

One sizes does not fit all

The report stressed the fact that Africa has failed in the past due to it trying to fit the mold set by other countries before it who have been in similar situations. Instead, the African countries must assess exactly what is needed for each of them to thrive, as well as come up with unique and dynamic ways to implement solutions to present obstacles in growth.

The report’s theme for 2014 was “Dynamic industrial policy in Africa: innovative institutions, effective processes and flexible mechanisms”, and in addition to highlighting areas in Africa’s economy that need help, the report also offers a framework to design and implement structural change in the developing continent.

Amongst the suggestion in the report is the need for effective collaboration. The private sector must join forces with government, and bureaucrats must be stationed in key positions, with enough independence from state to implement what needs to be achieved in each sector.

The report also suggests side-stepping Africa’s infrastructure problem by starting off with small industrial pockets that can be managed and maintained with the upmost efficiency. By concentrating resources on small key areas, the less will be wasted and this should also result in greater success. The more of these successful pockets, the better the overall growth and development in time.

Africa has proven itself in its ability to grow and achieve economic success, but as this report shows, the next stage in its economic journey will dictate whether the continent can start to turn this potential into sustainable economic growth. Africa needs to start producing growth that not only allows it its rightful place in the global market, but also that supports its citizens inclusive development and provides an improved and stable standard of living.

For further reading, go to these sites:

  1. Dynamic industrial policy for Africa’s transformation”, Business Day, 16 May 2014. Available at:
  2. New economic report urges Africa to build credible institutions to boost industrialization”, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Available at:
  3. Africa’s emergence: AU-UN report urges dynamic industrial policies”, MSME News Network, 18 April 2014. Available at:
David Okwara

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