Pretoria: There is an urgent need for Africa to develop industrial policies which will underpin the diversification of production structures, raise competitiveness levels and expand the continent’s export basket, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Speaking at the second Nigeria International Investment Forum in Lagos, Nigeria, on Thursday, Davies said Africa’s growth has mainly been underpinned by the commodities’ boom and rise of service industries on the back of products not produced in Africa.
“It is only through these targeted policy interventions and the commensurate public and private investments that Africa can begin to raise manufacturing output and increase its share of global trade and production.
“A strong manufacturing sector boosts a country’s intellectual capital and innovation, driving the growth in demand for skilled workers and scientists,” said Davies.
The next phase of Africa’s growth has to be rooted in a new paradigm of manufacturing and adding value to the products Africa is endowed with, Davies said.
“When we manufacture, we need to ensure that we have markets for which we produce, beginning with the continental market. A globally competitive manufacturing sector creates a sustainable economic system, encourages domestic and foreign investment, creates employment and improves a country’s balance of payments.
“It also creates employment beyond the manufacturing sector in supportive sectors such as financial services, infrastructure, information systems and education.”
Davies also pointed out that the need for integration in Africa was critical.
“Such integration, however, must not only entail institutionalised market integration but must entail ‘development integration’, which emphasises cross-border infrastructure development as a means to strengthen and deepen industrialisation and create manufacturing value-chains in Africa.
“As an overarching imperative, African countries must defend their policy space to craft industrial policies which will place our continent on a sustainable and inclusive growth trajectory,” he said.
Davies also met with his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Aganga to take stock of progress made since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Cooperation between South Africa and Nigeria in May 2012.