Opinion - December 4, 2022

OP-ED | Why Africa’s industrialization is long overdue, By Denise Kodhe

Achieving Industrialization in Africa is long overdue! Hence, putting in place all necessary strategies to ensure the continent’s speedy industrialization will help Africa effectively harness its vast natural and mineral resources for the benefit of its over 1.2 billion citizens.


Heads of State and Government of the African Union during the Niamey summit


Africa is potentially the world’s richest continent, hence the persistent and fundamental question as to why, in reality, the continent remains so poor.

The just concluded 17th Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on Industrialization and Economic Diversification, as well as the Assembly’s Extraordinary Session on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), held in Niamey, Niger could not have taken place at a better time than now when Africa is responding to a litany of challenges, from the impacts of climate change to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine War.

The key to addressing this multitude of challenges is in the hands of the continent’s political leadership, on the one hand; and African citizens, on another hand. Both will have to work collectively and steadfastly to, among others, address climate change-induced disasters ranging from hunger, famine and food insecurity situations in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia as well as perennial incidences of floods in countries like Madagascar and Nigeria.

Climate change is real and its impact too glaring for anyone to see. Addressing Africa’s climate challenges requires alternative thinking and a multistakeholder approach. Therefore, it is a collective responsibility of not only governments but also all non- state actors including the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the private sector, and academia to come together to strategize and save Africa.

Beyond addressing the negative impacts of climate change, we need a deliberate strategy for exploring Africa’s abundant natural and human resources, particularly its youth, to spur economic growth and drive the continent’s sustainable development, the AU Industrialization Summit signaled a new high-level political resolve and commitment to accelerate Africa’s sustainable and inclusive industrialization.

In this direction, Africa must implement the AfCFTA alongside implementing the necessary industrial policies that will allow the continent the opportunity to produce goods to be traded under the AfCFTA as crucial pathways to actualizing the ideals contained in the AU’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

It was in recognition of the crucial role of industrialization in fostering economic growth and sustainable development, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, during a side event by ECA on inclusive and sustainable industrialization as a driver of resilience and stability for the Sahel, urged Africa’s leadership to encourage development policies and strategies focused on enhancing industrialization to increase value addition.

At the heart of Africa’s industrialization agenda must be the continent’s enterprising yet unemployed young population. Unemployment is one of the biggest crises facing Africa today, which calls for urgent attention. Therefore, if we have to secure the future of the continent, we must put young people at the centre of our industrialization efforts. Industrialization is a major pillar of the economic growth strategies of developed countries like Japan, China, Korea, USA, and Germany.

Africa remains poor and will continue to be so until its leadership comes to the realization that achieving inclusive and sustainable industrialisation will not only solve the perennial problems of unemployment and lack of job opportunities for the continent’s teeming young population but also usher in a new era of enhanced economic growth and sustainable development.

It is worthy of note that despite Africa’s failure to industrialize yet, African countries such as Morrocco, South Africa, and Egypt are currently witnessing growth in the area of manufacturing and industrialization, thanks to local industrial policies which are boosting their global competitiveness.


Denise Kodhe is the outgoing Presiding Officer of the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), an advisory body of the AU designed to give civil society organizations (CSOs) a voice within AU institutions and decision-making processes. The views expressed in this opinion article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect African Newspage’s editorial policy.



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