The industrialization of African states, with more than 1 billion inhabitants, is still struggling to impose itself in the industrial sector. Indeed, the African continent only contributes 1.1% in terms of manufacturing production at the international level. In addition, it is essentially based on a limited group of countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa). Africa’s growth is mainly due to the role played by commodities and services. What then are the challenges that African states must face in order to achieve industrialization?
The obstacles to the industrialization of Africa are many and multiple. They concern in particular: the absence of competitive prices on the international market, this reality is mainly due to very limited domestic markets.
Added to this factor is the absence of programs to promote industrialization, the weight of bureaucracy, the existence of the informal sector which occupies a significant share in the economy (more than 77% in the Kenya and more than 73% in Rwanda, for example), political instability for certain countries (for example Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, etc.) without taking into account the pervasiveness of corruption.
In addition, many countries have an economy that relies solely on raw materials (products from agriculture, mining, petroleum, etc.). This interdependence, contrary to popular belief, does not contribute to the implementation of industrial activities other than those related to raw materials.
In fact, more than 50% of manufactured goods, produced in Africa and exported abroad, come from natural resources. To achieve sustainable development, Africa must reverse this trend.
Areas for improvement to consider
Africa, in order to meet the challenge of industrialization, must turn to foreign direct investment as well as entrepreneurship. In addition, it is preferable to encourage investments from southern countries such as Brazil, India or China, already present on the continent.
Investors are already present in Africa, in particular the Lafarge company, in East Africa and Cameroon, whose establishment contributes to the industrialization of the continent.
To guarantee the industrialization of the African continent, African States must put in place industrial policies favorable to the development of industrialization.
These measures must be in favor of innovation, capacity building, training, quality and entrepreneurship. In addition to these areas for improvement, it is also preferable to introduce measures to encourage companies to invest.
Among those to be implemented quickly: easy access to credit for companies in the process of being created or established for several years, economic policies based on supply and not demand, long-term political stability, regional integration with harmonization of trade regulations.
An industrialization scheme not to be reproduced
Many African countries have already launched industrialization after the colonial era. Unfortunately, it ended in failure.
There are several reasons for this phenomenon. Industrial policies implemented at that time favored large-scale projects associated with initiatives to limit imports. Morocco was home to many workshops for the assembly of automobiles.
Unfortunately, in the absence of technology transfers, the appearance of financial crises, of a debt ratio of African countries bordering 70% of their GDP, not counting the CFA currency weak against the euro, the African countries have failed to industrialize the continent.
Now, in the light of previous experiences, many African countries have become aware of the importance of implementing policies favorable to entrepreneurship as a factor of industrialization. This new dynamic should be seen as an example to follow.
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