African countries need to show stronger political will to advance industrialisation, advocated the three-day Africa’s flagship economic conference running until Saturday in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
On the theme “Imperatives for Sustainable Industrial Development in Africa,” the 2023 African Economic Conference calls on African countries to adopt new policies to promote improved productivity and harness the potential of a growing youth population.
Addressing the opening session, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde referred to industrialisation as an essential driver of inclusive economic growth.
“The need to change the narrative of Africa’s industrialisation for inclusive and sustainable industrial development has become more imperative; African countries need to build a robust industrial sector that can withstand external shocks,” she said.
Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies with an attractive human capital base, and is therefore seen as the future frontier labour market, said a statement issued by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) late Thursday.
“Despite this, the pace of industrialisation and economic transformation in Africa remains slow compared to other regions,” the UNECA said.
Claver Gatete, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UNECA, called on the conference to explore the policies and institutional capacities needed for sustainable industrialisation, inclusive development, and structural transformation.
“This will help us rebuild and emerge stronger from the crises,” Gatete said, stressing the crucial importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to spur Africa’s development.
Gatete affirmed the UNECA’s commitment to supporting countries and regional economic communities to develop national and regional implementation strategies to help them integrate the AfCFTA agreement into their national priorities and identify areas of competitive advantage.
Organised by the African Development Bank, the UNECA and the UN Development Programme, this year’s conference, its 18th edition, brought together experts, the private sector, researchers, and young people to discuss the challenges and prospects of industrialisation in Africa.