In a brand new report, UNCTAD reveals that Africa can grow to be a significant exporter of upper value-added items, creating progress and jobs, and fuelling an increase in productiveness and wages.
Launching the report in Nairobi, UNCTAD Secretary-Common Rebeca Grynspan insisted it will provide a greater future for the continent’s economies.
Diversifying commerce “builds resilience and enhances innovation”, Ms. Grynspan mentioned, including that diversifaction was “key” for personal sector improvement and employment alternatives for Africa’s rising inhabitants.
Africa’s aggressive benefit
Ms. Grynspan highlighted three elements driving the “large” alternative for the continent. From a geopolitical perspective, international locations and companies are in search of to diversify their suppliers and thus cut back threat. Africa is effectively positioned to faucet into this development, Ms. Grynspan mentioned, which along with the African Continental Free Commerce Space provides “nice synergies” for collaborating in international provide chains.
Africa additionally has a singular benefit amid the rise of the renewable power market, as it’s a very important supply of uncooked supplies for technology-intensive industries – as an illustration lithium, important to the manufacturing of electrical automotive batteries. It has the likelihood to grow to be a vacation spot for manufacturing and will search to export extra advanced completed items relatively than simply commodities, Ms. Grynspan mentioned.
As for demographics, Africa boasts not solely a dynamic, younger workforce, but in addition a “burgeoning” center class providing native shopper markets for hi-tech items.
The report analyses “untapped potential” for African international locations to strengthen their place within the vehicle, photo voltaic power and pharmaceutical industries.
Encouragingly, Ms. Grynspan famous that Africa’s tech ecosystem progress has already confirmed spectacular, as “hubs in synthetic intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain, fintech [financial technology] and e-commerce are thriving” in international locations reminiscent of Kenya, fostering innovation and strengthening Africa’s likelihood to seize technology-intensive international provide chains.
Greater wages and resilience
Creating an atmosphere conducive to technology-intensive industries will increase wages, the UNCTAD chief mentioned, underscoring that the common wage on the continent is $220 per thirty days whereas within the Americas, compared, it’s practically $670.
Based on UNCTAD, deeper integration into international provide chains would additionally diversify African economies, boosting their resilience to future shocks.
Nevertheless, for this to occur, extra funding will probably be wanted, Ms. Grynspan mentioned. The report highlights the truth that presently, solely about two per cent of worldwide investments in renewable power go to Africa.
Paul Akiwumi, Director of UNCTAD’s Division on Africa, Least Developed International locations and Particular Programmes, mentioned that to be able to drive extra large-scale non-public funding, regulatory boundaries must be eliminated and regional industrial improvement plans put in place.
Mr. Akiwumi cited the instance of a regional settlement between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia, permitting for the creation of an industrial zone for the manufacturing of electrical automotive batteries. He additionally highlighted the significance of product registration and mental property to be able to appeal to buyers.
Pressing debt reduction wanted
Ms. Grynspan burdened that to ensure that Africa to have the ability to seize its aggressive benefit, the continent’s economies want debt reduction to create fiscal house in order that international locations can put money into strengthening provide chains and in schooling for his or her workforce.
She recalled that African international locations pay 4 instances extra for borrowing than the US and eight instances greater than European nations, as proven in UNCTAD’s latest “World of Debt” report.
‘Change the principles’
“This should change if Africa is to realize its full financial potential and be a significant actor in international provide chains,” the UNCTAD chief insisted, pledging the UN’s unwavering assist to nations throughout the continent.
Ms. Grynspan highlighted UN Secretary-Common António Guterres’ advocacy to “change the principles that reproduce these asymmetries” and repair the “distorted” notion of threat which worldwide buyers maintain in relation to growing economies.