By Josephine Akaerr
At the forefront of promoting smart industrial policies and mobilising infrastructure development funding for Africa, the African Development Bank on Africa Industrialization Day 2020, urges the continent to accelerate industrialization for the transformation of African economies.
The African Development Bank counts Industrializing Africa as one of its High-5 key strategic aims, critical for the transformation of African economies.
“Industrialization, where we add value to what we competitively produce and then export, and also trade among ourselves on the back of the AfCFTA within a market of 1.3 billion people, should be prioritized and delivered,” said the Bank’s Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor in a message marking Africa Industrialisation Day.
Quaynor stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic had sharpened the need to accelerate industrialization and urged a greater role for the private sector, including as a partner to the public sector.
“Resilience is key, and that means no matter the external shocks in the future, we should rebuild so that our people, particularly youth and women who head our households, have jobs and better incomes,” he said.
The Bank continues to support operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). In August 2019, the institution extended a US$4.8 million grant to support the establishment in Ghana of the AfCFTA Secretariat.
The Bank is working with African countries that are developing strategies for implementation of the AfCFTA, helping them to build capacity and leverage opportunities provided by freer trade.
When businesses can trade across borders, then industry can expand, economies can diversify, and countries can move up the value chain, according to the Bank’s 2020 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) released this week.
The report suggests that the Bank’s investments in 2019 benefited one million people. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that benefited from Bank projects trebled their turnover to US$1 billion.
Several projects recently approved by the Bank are expected to help regional member countries exploit opportunities, including the construction and operation of a submarine internet cable in Seychelles and a project to expand access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises in West Africa, the report noted.
The African Development Bank is also promoting development of economic zones that bring together an enabling business environment, backbone integrated infrastructure and transport near to agricultural production hubs.
“Agro-Industrial Processing Zones aim to train young people in rural areas with the needed skills and attract companies, particularly SMEs,” said the Bank’s Director, Agricultural Finance and Rural Development, Atsuko Toda.
The pandemic has also spurred opportunities for Africa to strengthen local manufacturing capabilities for basic and essential medicines, Personal Protective Equipment and other medical equipment.
“The Bank is undertaking a ground-breaking study to develop a plan for this, which will be ready before the end of the year. The plan will highlight opportunities, challenges, policy reforms required, financing windows and strategic partnerships to be forged to make this happen,” said Director of Industrial and Trade Development at the African Development Bank, Abdu Mukhtar.
Celebrated each year on November 20, Africa Industrialization Day offers governments and development partners opportunities to explore or highlight initiatives that advance Africa’s industrialization. The theme for 2020 is Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation in the AfCFTA era.