Africa ripe for industrialisation

Johannesburg: Africa and China have vowed to focus on industrialisation which they hope will unlock inclusive economic growth and sustainable development for the continent.

The two sides believe that industrialisation, if implemented effectively, has the potential to unlock opportunities beyond borders, leading to sustained economic growth and development.

While Africa has experienced sustained economic growth above 5% over the last decade – with some countries above 7% – the contribution from industrialisation was minimal.

Industrialisation is closely linked to infrastructure development and job creation and has been identified as a precondition for Africa to achieve inclusive economic growth.

In his address during the China-Africa Business Forum held during the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Jacob Zuma said Africa is ripe for industrialisation.

“The truth is that Africa is rising and Africa has a bright future. It all depends on all of us here to make things happen,” President Zuma said.

Africa’s growth has been attributed to the increasingly sound macro-economic environment with low government debt, rising domestic resource mobilisation and reduced inflation rates.

The consumer market in the continent is said to be rising in line with its growing population while the environment for doing business is steadily improving in light of successful remedial actions in governance and economic management.

The rollout of technology and innovation is also improving the access to financial services.

This is in addition to the abundance of natural resources. Over the past five years, 30% of global oil and gas discoveries were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Further to this, Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land.

As a result of these developments, President Zuma said Africa’s middle class is” now growing rapidly, and the continent has become a major market for consumer goods.”

For industrialisation to work, President Zuma said integration of the continent is a key priority.

Currently the continent is advancing integration through different approaches.

These include the market integration through the establishment of the continental Free Trade Area as well as industrial and infrastructure development.

Aligned to the Continental Free Trade Area is the Tripartite Free Trade Area which brings together 26 African countries within SADC, East African Community and COMESA.

African Union chairperson and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said industrialisation is a focus of economic regions in the continent while also prioritising resources who boost out intra Africa trade.

Industrialisation, he said, is in line with African Union’s Agenda 2063.

“Industrialisation does not end but should be complemented by trade,” he said adding that the continent looks forward to cooperating with China in this regard.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is co-chairing the summit with Presidednt Zuma, said China is willing to help Africa travel an industrial path suited for its natural conditions.

“From our experience industrialisation cannot be achieved behind closed doors. Industrialisation in the age of economic mobilisation is requires that we take forward the advantage of both domestic and international markets as well as resources and put comparative advantage to best use.”

President Xi was confident that Africa can bring into play its advantages and achieve great success with regards to industrialisation.