A new report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has revealed that Nigeria, commonly rated as the ‘Giant of Africa’, did not rank among the fast-growing industrial countries in Africa.
The just published Africa Industrialization Index (AII) report indicated that 37 out of 52 African countries had become more industrialized over the past eleven years.
The report provides a country-level assessment of 52 African countries’ progress across 19 key indicators and will enable African governments to identify comparator countries to benchmark their own industrial performance and identify best practices more effectively.
The AfDB, African Union and UNIDO jointly launched the inaugural edition of the report on the sidelines of the African Union Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification in Niamey, Niger.
According to the report’s findings, South Africa maintained a very high ranking throughout the 2010-2021 period, followed closely by Morocco, which held second place as of 2022. Rounding out the top six over the period are Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritius, and Eswatini.
The Index’s 19 indicators cover manufacturing performance, capital, labour, business environment, infrastructure, and macroeconomic stability and it also ranks African countries’ industrialization across three dimensions: performance, direct determinants and indirect determinants.
While the direct determinants include such endowments as capital and labour and how these are deployed to drive industrial development, the indirect determinants include enabling environmental conditions such as macroeconomic stability, sound institutions and infrastructure.
Commenting on the key findings of the AII, AfDB’s Director for Industrial and Trade Development, Abdu Mukhtar, noted that while Africa had shown encouraging progress in industrialization over the 2010-2022 period, the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had set back its efforts and highlighted gaps in production systems.
He expatiated: “The continent has a unique opportunity to sort out this dependency by further integrating and conquering its own emerging markets.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area is creating a once-in-a-lifetime single market opportunity of 1.3 billion people and total aggregate consumer and business spending of up to $4 trillion creates an opportunity to enhance their trade and production linkages and finally reap industrial competitiveness from regional integration as other regions have done.
The AfDB has invested up to $8 billion over the past 5 years under its Industrialize Africa High-5 priority.
According to Muktar, the development finance institution intends to spend at least $3 billion in the pharma sector alone by 2030.
The report further showed that building productive industry will be integral to Africa’s development, offering a path to accelerated structural transformation, creating formal jobs at scale and inclusive growth.
However, Africa’s share of global manufacturing has declined to the current level of less than 2%. More proactive industrial policies are seen as critical to reversing the trend, but these are knowledge-intensive and require a detailed understanding of the constraints and opportunities that each country faces.
The Index showed that manufacturing value-added more important than size of economy
Among the report’s other key findings are that during the coverage period, Djibouti, Benin, Mozambique, Senegal, Ethiopia, Guinea Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana, and Uganda all improved by five or more places in the rankings.
The top performers are not necessarily those with the biggest economies, but those countries that generate high manufacturing value-added per capita, with a substantial proportion of manufacturing goods bound for export;
North Africa remains the most advanced African region in industrial development, followed by Southern Africa, Central Africa, West Africa and East Africa.
The Africa Industrialization Index was one of two new tools presented during the event. The second—and complementary— African Industry Observatory, unveiled by UNIDO and the African Union, will serve as a central online knowledge platform to collect, analyze and consolidate the quantitative data needed for qualitative analyses of national, regional and pan-continental industry trends, forecasts and comparisons.
In his remarks during the report’s launch, the African Union Commission’s Acting Director for Industry, Minerals, Entrepreneurship & Tourism, Chiza Charles Chiumya, who represented the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, said: “These tools are going to greatly enhance our industrial policy making as well as help to bring in the required focus that industrialization needs both from policymakers as well as the private sector, who will now clearly see where the continent has opportunities.”
Also, in his speech, Chief of UNIDO’s Africa division, Victor Djemba, said: “The African Industry Observatory and the Africa Industrialization Index will help consolidate cross-institutional cooperation, strengthen each institution’s policy dialogue influence for accelerating industrial development and an enhanced knowledge of industrial development dynamics.”
The African Union Extraordinary Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification and African Union Extraordinary Session on the African Continental Free Trade Area are currently taking place in Niamey, Niger, through 25 November 2022.
The Summit’s theme is ‘Industrializing Africa: Renewed Commitment towards Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization and Economic Diversification’.