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Source: Trade Law Center (TRALAC)


This [AfCFTA] greement requires policymakers to align a wide range of complex and divergent trade strategies across the continent. To support this ambitious endeavour, the International Trade Centre has launched a report that assesses Africa’s existing national and sub-regional trade strategies to identify common trends and opportunities in the ongoing AfCFTA negotiations.  Diversifying Trade in Africa: New strategy approaches for the African Continental Free Trade Area examines 181 strategic African trade and development documents in ITC’s Trade Strategy Map database. To achieve robust regional integration, the report suggests that Africa should focus more on manufacturing and innovation sectors that can add value. ‘If not designed properly and used by the private sector, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will foster little economic benefits. This is why investing in the ‘design phase’ will be essential for African policymakers to align often complex and even divergent national trade strategies across the continent,’ said ITC Executive Director Director Arancha González.

Extract (pdf):  The report suggests that African trade policy considerations should take into account the following trends:

While Africa’s regional strategy discourse is on manufacturing and industrialization, its national trade strategies continue to focus on agriculture and primary products. Agriculture accounts for less than 20% of the continent’s GDP but more than 60% of the priority sectors in African trade strategies. Manufacturing and high value-added sectors are rarely prioritized at both the country and regional level. This focus on a narrow range of agricultural and primary products only contributes to perpetuate, rather than evolve, existing trade relationships within Africa and between Africa and other regions.

With almost half of the world’s regional trade strategies, Africa is a champion of regionalism. Close to 80% of existing trade strategies in Africa identify trade integration and regionalism as crucial policy areas, but currently only 10% of African strategies have a regional scope, which indicates there is space for regionalism to grow.

There are significant similarities in the sectors that African countries prioritize in their national trade strategies, with agricultural products being prioritized across all regions. Differences can nevertheless be appreciated in the sectoral focus across African regions. North Africa focuses mostly on energy and bio-fuels while textiles and clothing predominate in subSaharan Africa. East Africa and West Africa focus on foodstuffs, animals and animal products. Services sector priorities are highly concentrated on tourism, transport and, to a lesser extent, on information and communications technology, and finance.

Given the degree of overlap of sector priorities at the country and regional level, developing a common space for a regional strategy for Africa is not going to be simple. Overlapping sector priorities could become a potential source of tensions during AfCFTA negotiations. Neighbouring countries find themselves very often prioritizing the same type of agricultural products. Examples include maize (Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Uganda, United Rep. of Tanzania), pulses (Ethiopia, Kenya), mango and onions (Burkina Faso, Mali), and cashew (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, United Rep. of Tanzania) among many other.

Table of contents:  Connecting trade strategies with regional ambitions for African industrialization; Challenges facing regional trade strategies;  African trade strategies over time;  Conclusions

Uganda and the AfCFTA: Impact Assessment Report (ECA)

The ECA and Trademark East Africa launched the national impact assessment report that presented the effects of the AfCFTA on Uganda, during a national AfCFTA stakeholder consultation meeting on 31 October 2019. Emphasizing that regional platforms are “the way to go” for developing countries to overcome trade challenges, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, used her opening statement as an opportunity to applaud the ECA/TMEA partnership in supporting regional integration in Eastern Africa. 

The forum proceeded to present an Impact Assessment Report, set out by Andrew Mold, Acting Director of the ECA Office for Eastern Africa. With Uganda exporting close to 51% of her exports to the African market, the findings projected welfare gains post-AfCFTA, clearly demonstrating the importance of the AfCFTA to Uganda.   To get the most out of the AfCFTA in Uganda, the role of manufacturing, services and value addition were rightly flagged up as priority areas to consider. The stakeholders also discussed how to make the most out of the electronic payment systems that the EAC has put in place to lower transaction costs for intra-regional trade.

Nigeria and the AfCFTA: An interview with the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf

Do you think we are ready for the opportunities to be offered by AfCFTA?  Well, I will say that some industries are ready. Some big companies are ready to take advantage because of their size, network, capital base, the resources that they have and because they can take the advantages of economy of scale easily. You can say that those ones are ready. You can also say that in the service sector our people are ready. Because the challenges you face in the service sector are not the same that you face in the real sector. We have our people in fashion, creative industry, entertainment, ICT, financial service, legal service, advertising, trading, that are ready to lash on the opportunities. These are areas our people will take advantage in. But when it comes to manufacturing, especially with the SMEs, I cannot say that we are ready.

African Industrialisation Day, World Export Development Forum updates

(i)  Arkebe Oqubay: Why industrialisation is vital for the AfCFTA  to succeed.  In my view, at least three interventions are required for the AfCFTA to succeed as a development opportunity: A commitment and strategic focus on industrialisation; Increase marginal share in global exports; Invest in connectivity and infrastructure.

(ii)  ODI Africa Industrialisation Day perspectives: Dirk Willem te Velde: Digitalisation and innovation are vital for African manufacturing;  Linda Calabrese: Lessons for Tanzania on value chain integration; Stephen Gelb: Lower tariffs are not sufficient for industrialization; Karishma Banga: The digital economy and the AfCFTA

(iii)  World Export Development Forum puts focus on value addition for inclusive growth in one AfricaInclusive economic growth across Africa hinges on ensuring greater value addition in manufacturing, agriculture and services. The successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will be critical to ensuring this. That was the message from public and private-sector leaders at the opening of the 19th World Export Development Forum taking place in Addis Ababa.  The opening of WEDF 2019 coincided with the 30th anniversary of Africa Industrialization Day reaffirming the event’s focus on addressing key priorities of the African continent. Opening the event, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde said: “It is high time to expedite [of the African Continental Free Trade Area] implementation in order to unleash a complementary economic ecosystem among African nations.  It is imperative we leverage the collective market size that we have as a continent.  By creating a complementary economic system, we will be able to reap the full potential of our respective nations and become a major player in the international trade arena.”

(iv)  ITC Executive Director Arancha González: "We also know that the AfCFTA has the potential to change the trading landscape of Africa and boost intra-Africa trade by more than 50%. However, if policies are going to work, they need to work for everyone—and that includes women. For this reason, the past two days, ITC, the AUC  and the UNECA  have worked with more than 40 women business associations representing one million African women entrepreneurs and producers to develop priorities to shape an AfCFTA that works for women. We will continue the discussion into next year by bringing together women and trade policymakers.”

(v)  Representatives of over 43 African countries call for harnessing SEZs to drive Africa's industrialization. More than 220 African experts and policymakers representing 43 countries and 60 African economic zones on Tuesday called for harnessing the potential of special economic zones to spur industrialization in Africa. They made the joint call on Tuesday during the fourth annual meeting of African Economic Zones  in Addis Ababa,  held under the theme "Special Economic Zones: Accelerator for Industrialization in Africa."  The Ethiopian Minister of Transport, Dagmawit Moges underscored the crucial imperative to further tap into the economic potential of free zones by creating synergy with other relevant infrastructures. "There is a strong need for transit and transport corridors to link Special Economic Zones with national and regional centers.”

Mehdi Tazi Riffi, AFZO President stressed that "AFZO was put in place by Africans, for Africans and to develop successful African Special Economic Zones." The Africa Free Zones Organization , which currently has more than 72 members representing 37 African countries, envisages improving the attractiveness of economic zones by "setting up of tailored model for economic zones development.” Prior to the ongoing meeting in Addis Ababa, AFZO had previously conducted four similar regional meetings on SEZs in Ghana, Gabon, and Togo, eventually bringing together more than 500 participants from 30 different countries.  [Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority: N1.45trn goods smuggled into Nigeria from Benin Republic annually]

(vi)  "China has focused a lot of attention to the industrialization of the African continent" the ITC Executive Director told Xinhua on the sidelines of the Africa Industrialization Day commemoration event.  “It (China) has focused a lot in manufacturing," Gonzalez said, as she emphasized other emerging potential areas in the industry sector that are benefiting from and attracting Chinese engagement across Africa. “First, I think now there is interesting opportunity that is coming in two other sectors, one is agro-processing, so helping Africa transform a lot of the raw materials, agricultural commodities that this continent produces into processed products. The second sector, still under leverage in my view, is a big opportunity in the services economy," Gonzalez said, adding investment in the health, education, logistics, and digital connectivity areas will also make a more competitive African economy.

(vii)  A high-level meeting of policymakers, regulators and industry experts in the field of pharmaceuticals and trade opened in Addis Ababa, Thursday to discuss a bold path towards affordable pharmaceuticals through leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area.  The Continent is home to 11% of the world’s population yet it carries 25% of the world’s burden of disease. If implemented, pooling procurement of essential drugs and products and expanding local pharmaceutical production on the continent is seen as a critical pathway to the prosperity of African citizens, thereby achieving universal healthcare in Africa. Executive Secretary of the ECA, Vera Songwe, told the meeting that 50% of all children who die before the age of five in the world are in Africa. The meeting discussed the role of African businesses in driving the growth in this sector as well as the need for financing instruments to facilitate pooled procurement. These include a strategic fund, levy and social bonds that can link up with financial markets.

Country updates

(i )  Rwandan industrialists have claimed that the importation of rival productshigh cost of electricity and imported raw materials and operating below capacity were hampering their competitiveness on local and continental markets. The challenges were highlighted on Wednesday during the celebration of Africa Industrialization day. Constantin Rugaba, the Sales and Marketing Manager at Master Steel, a factory that manufactures construction materials, said imported rival products have led their sales to decrease.  Telesphore Mugwiza, Director General of industry and entrepreneurship department in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said lack of competitiveness among local manufacturers is driven by high production cost and operating below production capacity.

(ii)  Nigeria's Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, has called on African countries to implement strategies that would promote industrialisation and diversification of their economies in order to optimise the opportunities offered by the  AfCFTA agreement to African economy. Adebayo said: “The road ahead to realising these opportunities are tough and challenging but we have no choice but to tackle them head on.” He made the call yesterday at the 2019 edition of the Africa Industrialisation Da), which took place in Calabar, Cross River State. He also called for increased intra-African trade to lessen the continent’s exposure to external macroeconomic shocks and protectionist trade policies.  [Nigerian government invests additional $250m in Sovereign Wealth Fund]

(iii)  Nigeria's federal government on Thursday said it has resuscitated the Presidential Mines Surveillance Task Force to curb illegal mining and environmental degradationThe Task Force, which would be operating in all states of the federation, will also be responsible for plugging revenue leakages and institutionalisation of the National Council of Mining, and Mineral Resources Development. The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who disclosed this in his presentation to the National Economic Council also updated members of the current relationship between the federal and state governments in relation to fiscal governance of solid mineral sector.



Author: Gerhard Erasmus


The AfCFTA has been designed to comply with the typical multilateral rules applicable to an FTA covering trade in goods and service. They include Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), as well as those requirements dealing with the elimination of substantially all tariffs and other restrictive regulations of commerce among the State Parties. The AfCFTA Agreement and the Protocols contain several provisions incorporating disciplines from the trade regulating instruments of the World Trade Organization (WTO), such as those dealing with trade remedies and standards. And the AfCFTA Protocol on dispute settlement is based on the Dispute Settlement Understanding of the WTO.

On face value the AfCFTA is meant to be a rules-based trade arrangement; legal obligations agreed upon should be respected. Monitoring of compliance and dispute settlement are part of such endeavours. These are important technical aspects of the AfCFTA. They constitute benchmarks for evaluating the AfCFTA and assessing its implementation over time.

Source: www.chronicle.co.zw

AS the drive towards operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) gathers momentum, revenue authorities within the region are apprehensive of the potential compromise this would pose on domestic revenue collections mainly on the customs front. 

Africa is in dire need of a strong domestic revenue base to meet its development needs as part of a wider long-term desire to wean itself off donors. 

Speaking at the ongoing 4th International Conference on Tax in Africa here, revenue administrators and their stakeholders stressed the need to boost domestic revenue through expanding the tax base in a manner that will notably increase their tax-to-GDP ratios while ensuring stability in revenue. 

However, they expressed fear that the AfCFTA deal, which has already been signed by many African governments and is due for implementation in July 2020, might offset customs revenue gains. 

“The African Continental Free Trade Area brings exciting new prospects for the continent, but immediately, means a loss in customs revenue meaning, it is imperative to tap into efficiency in collecting revenue,” said Mr Logan Wort, executive secretary for ATAF, a 38-country member regional advocacy organisation on tax administration issues in Africa. 

Moreover, given that the notion of digitalised economies is getting more prevalent in Africa, Mr Wort said policy and administrative action needs to be considered “to counter the decreasing contribution of corporate income taxes relative to total tax revenue”. 

Head of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria, Mr Tunde Fowler, concurred but said the possible customs revenue loss from embracing the AfCFTA would be for a short while and that states need to put interim interventions to ease the impact. 

“Indeed, many countries have signed and ratified the AfCFTA. While spelling exciting news for intra-Africa trade, it could lead to a reduction in the customs revenue in the short term, thus requiring stop-gap measures not to affect development plans,” he said.

Mr Fowler said in the long-run the AfCFTA would yield positive dividend that will cushion economies as members will realise benefits of trading in a wider market. 

The African Tax Outlook calculates customs revenue as contributing about 14 percent to the total tax basket in the continent. 

This requires Africa to develop more efficient and effective ways of collecting revenue, with technology as a prime instrument. 

Africa’s Agenda 2063 views domestic resources as an important enabler of its aspirations. 

In fact, the regional blueprint specifically stresses the need to “build effective, transparent, and harmonised tax, revenue collection, and public expenditure systems” as one of the key pillars.




WELCOMING REMARKS BY Ambassador A. Muchanga Commissioner, Trade & Industry Department, AUC




THEME: “Positioning African Industry to Supply the AfCFTA Market”.



Your Excellency, Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Your Excellencies Honourable Ministers here present;

H.E. Arancha González, Executive Director, International Trade Centre;

H.E. Aurelia Calabaro, UNIDO Regional Director;

Your Excellencies Ambassadors and Heads of Mission;

Captains of Industry and Commerce ;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

I will be brief.

I warmly welcome you all to the African Union headquarters.

I am also happy to see you all.

20th November of each year is Africa Industrialization Day since 1989. We are marking thirty years of commemorating Africa Industrialization Day.

We commemorate it this year with renewed commitment to use industrialization as a key lever in the structural transformation of Africa.

We are this year commemorating the day with growing partnerships as represented by participants from many parts of the world.

We also have joint activities with the Governments of Korea and Ethiopia and the International Trade Centre. UNIDO is always our partner and will always be.

The key drivers of industrialization will be the private sector. Mindful of this; we are providing a large market space through the African Continental Free Trade Area hence the theme: Positioning African Industry to Supply the AfCFTA Market”. Business should welcome this. In addition to this, we are:

• committed to skills development and one of the key outcomes of this commemoration is to establish a Pan-African Manufacturing Institute;
• committed to dialogue with African Manufacturers. To this end, the Pan-African Manufactures Association has been inaugurated and we will enter into a memorandum of Understanding. Work is also underway to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Free Zones Organization;
• committed to creating an enabling environment for the growth of manufacturing by addressing issues like fair competition, policy consistency, access to finance, combatting corruption as well as creation of trade related infrastructure; among others.
• Committed to mainstreaming of gender in manufacturing. The She Trades Brand is growing. We must now develop the She Produces brand; and,
• Committed to leveraging synergies with the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. To this end, we have during this commemoration inaugurated a Thematic Working Group on Industrialization, Trade and Investment.


Moving forward, we now need to focus on the development of industrial statistics that cover all African countries. The data will give us evidence of what is going on at the enterprise, national and continental levels.

Once again, you are all most welcome and thank you for your kind attention.


Download Speech


Source: AU Website

by Ndubuisi Ekekwe for Havard Business Review


China designed and executed a policy that shrank the industrialization process in a mere 25 years — something that many economies took at least a century to do. That redesign has brought immense dislocation in global commerce and industry, enabling China to become one of the world’s leading economies.

China’s success has led many African capitals to pursue the country’s same industrialization trajectory. Over the last few years, African leaders have been pursuing policies designed to mimic the path China took. Some of these policies include creating special economic zones after China’s Shenzhen and positioning the manufacturing sector as a fulcrum to attract investments and create new jobs. Despite these efforts, Africa has yet to advance in its industrialization at the same speed China did.

Put simply, the things that worked for China will not work for Africa.

China had already won sizable global manufacturing, accounting for more than 32% of the world’s industrial production as of May 2019. It became the world’s manufacturing capital through a combination of factors, including optimal infrastructure and price-competitive local manufacturing talent. In doing so, China created a well-differentiated comparative advantage that made companies from the U.S. and Europe — and later, other parts of the world — outsource manufacturing activities to China.

For more than three dozen years, a virtuous circle was created: The availability of demand from the U.S. and Europe provided China the opportunity to invest to meet its needs. And over time, China moved from basic manufacturing into advanced manufacturing domains, where state-of-the-art technologies are used to improve processes and many lower-skill processes are automated. Consequently, China has improved its capabilities in robotics and broad emerging technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Today China is recognized as a leading AI player.

It is in these technological advancements that China can continue to dominate while Africa may struggle. AI is expected to distort the equilibrium of the global labor market, eliminating many factory jobs. Most Western companies will use AI to do most of the manufacturing jobs that they are currently outsourcing to China. Indeed, AI will create a massive shift in how products and services of the 21st century are developed, manufactured, and distributed.

If the manufacturing jobs by global entities like Dell, HP, and Siemens do not need to be outsourced, the expected opportunity Africa is banking on may not materialize. African leaders have expected that as China rises further, its wage levels will create disincentives for global manufacturers to continue sending work there. As that happens, they hope countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Kenya can be seen as reliable alternatives that provide affordable labor with enough infrastructures for basic manufacturing. But with AI advancements decreasing outsourcing, the availability of cheap wage becomes irrelevant. China understands that, and is investing heavily to win the race of advanced manufacturing, tapping into the capabilities it acquired by making things for the world. If any outsourced manufacturing will remain, it is the advanced manufacturing. Based on available reports, Africa is not preparing for that level yet, as it continues to struggle with basic enablers like electricity, challenges that many countries solved many decades ago.

Africa can find the paths to industrialization, but in ways that do not mimic China’s. Here are some of the paths for the continent; some are already in progress and need to be deepened:

Encourage internal consumption and intra-trade. Africa should build processes to improve internal consumption, rather than focusing on using cheap labor as a comparative advantage for global manufacturing. If Africa expands internal consumption by trading more among member states, decoupling from old colonial trade routes, it can industrialize, as it has sizable markets to support the growth of companies. Today, the share of intra-African exports as a percentage of total African exports is about 17%, well below the 69% recorded for Europe and 59% for Asia. Improving intra-African commerce will advance the continent.

Push forward the Free Trade Agreement. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which entered its operational phase on July 7, will remove some inherent barriers for intra-continental trade that have caused most African countries to favor trade with European countries and other global counterparts, rather than with African nations. The agreement has been designed to make goods produced in Africa move within the continent at negligible tariffs. The expectation is that manufacturers will be incentivized to invest in Africa in order to have access to the integrated market. If it works as planned, the trade agreement will be a catalyst to African industrialization.

Create a single African currency. The planned currency got a boost when a regional economy, the Economic Community of West African States, announced plans to launch the ECO as a regional currency in 2020. The expectation is that once regional economies have monetary union convergence, a continental-level monetary union will be formed. A single currency will reduce barriers in trade by eliminating multiple exchanges, wherein currencies have to be converted to one of the leading global currencies, like the U.S. dollar, euro, or British pound sterling, before trading in Africa. This drastic reduction on trade frictions will boost industrialization.

There are risks to these structural redesigns, however, which must be managed. A union arising out of the single currency will require a supranational bank to coordinate monetary policies, depriving member countries of individual flexibility on areas of monetary policies. The implication is that some bigger economies will have undue influence on the performance of the union. Without careful management, the smaller economies affected could experience welfare losses, making them worse off than before the integration.


Improve infrastructure. In its 2019 African Economic Outlook, the African Development Bank wrote that “trade costs due to poorly functioning logistics markets may be a greater barrier to trade than tariffs and nontariff barriers.” Africa needs more deep seaports, railway lines, airports, and other critical enablers of modern commerce in order to advance. It remains more expensive for an operating factory in Accra, Ghana, to import coffee from Rwanda than from a Paris-based company, for instance. And most exports outside Africa are unprocessed raw materials that, because of supply chains and the disparate natures of the markets, have not stimulated local processing. Investment in infrastructures will close the gaps.

Invest in education. Africa also needs to invest in education to compete and advance its citizens so that it can boost internal consumption. The continent must make primary and secondary education compulsory — and free — while boosting quality by committing more resources to education. Unless Africa can educate its citizens to compete with the best in the world, it will struggle to rise.

As robotics and AI advance, most countries will keep their production processes at home, eliminating the need for cheaper labor abroad. In this redesign, Africa’s competitor is not China; robots and AI are the real competitors. Africa can no longer depend on global manufacturing to become industrialized, nor can it simply mimic China’s policies. But if Africa educates its citizens, integrates effectively on trade and currency, and improves intra-African trade, its industries can compete at least to serve its local markets. Where that happens, Africa can attain industrialization faster by scaling indigenous innovations and utilizing AI as enablers.

Sanusi Lamido, a former governor of the central bank of Nigeria, once railed against his country for spending “huge resources importing consumer goods from China that should be produced locally.”

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country, is also the continent’s largest crude oil producer, but imports most of its refined oil. Exporting raw commodities and then spending vast sums of money on manufactured imports is hardly unique to the Nigeria-China trade relationship. Most African countries are in similar situations with China, the European Union, the United States or other overseas trade partners.

Although China has set up mining operations across Africa and is heavily involved in building infrastructure, much of its activities on the continent involve imported equipment and labour and no skill transfers, Mr. Lamido observed. “So China takes our primary goods and sells us manufactured ones,” the former banker wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times, a UK-based financial daily.

Mr. Lamido’s views are shared by many African experts. Indeed, the case for industrialization in Africa has long been recognized among those specialists who argue that the continent’s economic transformation is unlikely to happen without greater industrialization. The United Nations even dedicated the two decades from 1980 to 2000 to promoting industrialization in Africa. In 1989 the UN General Assembly proclaimed 20 November as Africa Industrialization Day to mobilize “the commitment of the international community to the industrialization of Africa.”

“The lack of competitiveness of African manufacturing and the extent to which the scope for domestic value addition is left untapped are epitomized by the region’s trade in cotton,” says the UN Economic Commission for Africa in its annual Economic Report on Africa publication. For example, while Africa accounted for about 16% of global cotton exports in 2012, only 1% of these exports, or about $400 million, was cotton that had been processed into fabrics. During the same period, the continent imported $0.4 billion worth of cotton and $4 billion of cotton fabrics.

“In other words,” says the report, “The region was trading raw cotton for cotton fabrics, missing a huge opportunity to add value domestically and industrialize.” Some of the main cotton exporters include Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali. Such skewed trade patterns could result in a situation in which whatever revenue Africa generates from exporting raw materials is offset by imports of manufactured goods.

Nigeria offers a classic example of what has been happening to many sub-Saharan African countries that have concentrated on exporting raw commodities while paying scant attention to processing some of the commodities into finished goods as part of a deliberate policy on industrialization. For example, in 2012 Nigeria exported $89 billion of crude oil, according to the ECA report, but imported $5.5 billion of refined oil because its refineries have all but collapsed due to neglect. Deliberate trade policies and practices consistent with African countries’ development goals could lead to industrialization, which in turn could help transform and strengthen their economies.

Insufficient growth

Over the past two decades Africa’s economic expansion has been remarkable, with a few countries registering double-digit rises. Because much of the growth is fuelled by high demands for mineral and agricultural resources, the World Bank projects a slowdown in 2015 to about 4.4% due to weaker prices for oil and other commodities. However, growth is expected to pick up again in 2016 and 2017.

Yet as in the past, this growth will likely not be enough to lead to significant changes needed to reduce poverty by creating jobs and providing social services. Overall, “the current merchandise export structure, dominated by raw and unprocessed commodities, is not conducive to the envisaged level of development,” says Carlos Lopes, the ECA head, in his foreword to the ECA’s report, the focus of which is “Industrializing through Trade.” By favouring the export of raw materials over processing goods, sub-Saharan Africa denies itself the opportunity to add value through manufacturing, which would provide more jobs and generate additional revenue.

In 2013 the ECA argued that African countries could transform their economies through commodity-based industrialization. A year later, its report “Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa” concluded that the continent needed to set up stronger institutions and adopt effective measures to enhance structural transformation. This year the commission is saying that deliberate and smart trade policies and practices could lead to the much-delayed industrialization of Africa.

This year’s report is making the case that African countries can use trade to achieve industrial development and structural transformation, but advises against the traditional pattern of trading, which so far has meant exchanging raw commodities for manufactured goods.

“A successful trade-induced industrialization should be interactive and coherent with a country’s national development strategy; it should be evolving and highly selective,” Hopestone Chavula, one of the authors of the report, told Africa Renewal.

Smart protectionism

  • August - November 2019

    Current Issue: August - November 2019

    Theme: Climate Change

    The effects of climate change are being felt in Africa; countries, organisations and individuals, including young people, are taking actions to tackle these effects. In this edition, we highlight some outstanding climate action initiatives by young Africans.


Still, Mr. Lopes from the ECA is convinced “smart protectionism” works, telling Africa Renewal last year that “all countries that have industrialized started with some degree of protectionism.” But he quickly concedes that Africa cannot practice crude protectionism anymore. “If we have to make the rules work for Africa, that basically means smart protectionism.”

In pursuing industrialization through trade, sub-Saharan Africa would not be treading untested paths. Experience from Japan, the East Asian tigers and China all show the effect of deliberate trade policies, including the role of central governments in making the right choices to advance national development goals.

While the role of governments may be important, the report says, policymakers must understand global trade dynamics and use regional and international trade negotiations to pursue their industrialization agenda.

Trade policies alone will not jump-start African industrialization, the report finds, but they will provide “a robust framework for African countries to reassess their trade policy.” This will give those countries the opportunity to identify the best routes to structural transformation and tailor trade policy to achieve the desired goals. 

This week, business leaders, project developers, development finance professionals, institutional investors representing pension and sovereign wealth funds, as well as policymakers meet in Johannesburg for the second Africa Investment Forum convened by the African Development Bank.

The Forum is an innovative marketplace - dedicated to moving development ideas and projects to bankability, mobilizing capital, and accelerating the financial closure of deals that can improve the lives of millions of people. Among other things, the Africa Investment Forum has the potential to accelerate Africa’s agricultural transformation.

In much of Africa, 60% or more of the working population is employed in agriculture. And yet agriculture only contributes about one-quarter of Africa’s GDP, with the continent mainly producing and exporting raw products and importing significant amounts of processed food. The sector punches below its weight. And yet there is huge potential for income and job creation if Africa can increase productivity and move up the value chain to produce more, higher value-added, processed food.

The bottom line is that African agriculture must move from being a “way of life” to a resilient, sustainable business sector that creates prosperity, jobs, as well as improves incomes and livelihoods of rural people. The Africa Investment Forum convenes players in the agriculture and agribusiness sector who come together to roll up their sleeves and explore business and investment opportunities. The Forum’s concrete “boardroom discussions” connect investment projects with investors. It brings together entrepreneurs, project developers, and investors interested in agriculture to make deals.

Last year’s Africa Investment Forum saw nearly 2,000 participants from 87 nations gather to discuss more than $46 billion-worth of boardroom deals. One of the highlights was a transaction involving Ghana Cocoa Board, designed to help Ghana’s cocoa sector – which employs some 800,000 farm families, producing crops worth about $2 billion in foreign exchange annually. The presence of Ghana’s Head of State, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, in the boardroom session galvanized investor interest in a sector so important for Ghana, one of the world’s top cocoa exporters.

This year, Ghana’s Cocoa Board returns to the Forum to sign a Facility Agreement for a $600 million syndicated receivables-backed term loan aimed at enhancing Ghana’s cocoa productivity. The investment deal – also involving Credit Suisse as well as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited - was born out of the Africa Investment Forum.

This year’s Forum will also see a focus on Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones or SAPZs. There is often little investment interest in Africa’s rural areas, due to a lack of transport, energy and other critical infrastructure. SAPZs are a solution to connect rural areas to regional and global supply chains so that they can produce higher value-added processed goods in areas of higher agricultural productivity. SAPZs gather most or all the elements of an agricultural value chain in one area: from farm to fork. Aside from attracting investment, SAPZs is also important from a development perspective because they help to raise rural incomes and create job opportunities for Africa’s surging youth population.

The 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) 1989, declared November 20 to be Africa Industrialization Day. It was first observed on November 20, 1990.

The Africa Industrialization Day (AID), represents a unique platform to enhance international cooperation and dialogue on the pan-African industrialization agenda, and to raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges associated with this innovation drive. Every year it gathers African leaders, policy makers, and representatives of the private sector, academia, international financial institutions (IFIs) and development partners to showcase the continued relevance of industry, including manufacturing production, as a powerful engine to build the Africa we want as underlined in Agenda 2063.

This year the African Union in collaboration and partners have planned a week long activities to mark Africa Industrialization Day (AID). Africa Industrialization Week 2019 is themed, “Positioning African Industry to supply the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) Market"

AIW 2019 Key Objectives are:

  • Mobilizing both African and leaders from the rest of the world, including international development organizations to advocate for the accelerated and sustainable as well as inclusive industrialization of Africa.
  • Promotion of startups, small and medium sized enterprises/industries (SMEIs), as well as established middle and high-cap enterprises to strengthen the continent’s capacity to integrate into the global production and trading system.
  • Providing a platform for public-private engagement between industrial policy makers, the private sector, civil society, and development cooperating partners as they endeavor to share ideas on how to shape the continent’s industrialization agenda. This will also provide an opportunity for African manufacturers to learn from their counterparts from the rest of the world.
  • Promote the implementation of AU continental frameworks such as; the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA); the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), the SME Strategy; the Boosting Intra-African Trade strategy (BIAT); the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); and the UN General Assembly's Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) in the context of Agenda 2063.
  • Development a continental strategy on the automotive value chain to catalyze industrialization.

Six key outcomes are envisaged to emerge from the AIW2019.

  • Enhanced awareness on the process of Africa industrialization,
  • Policy coherence on industrialization,
  • Effective engagement with key stakeholders on industrialization and trade especially in the context of the AfCFTA. 
  • Enhanced synergies between the private and public sectors as they interface with global capital and technology,
  • Agreement on new model of developing Africa’s productive capacities in order to boost intra-African trade and enhance Africa’s share of global trade.
  • Enhanced collaboration among various stakeholders for industrialization on the continent and beyond

A number of side events will be organized around the Africa industrialization day, below you can find the list and description of all the official sides the African Union will organize with its partners. See below

Please note that each side event has its own registration. Find the agenda for the AFRICA INDUSTRIALISATION WEEK HERE

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The Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 2009 by 35 founding national business chambers to influence government policy and create a better operating environment for business.

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