Stakeholders say transformative industrialisation is critical for Africa's sustainable development
Leveraging on strategic foresight for an agile, robust, and forward-looking sustainable industrial development in Africa
A strategic and systemic approach is critical for a sustainable Africa. We are not looking at interventions that will yield today, but long-term investments
Some stakeholders have reiterated the need for transformative industrialisation, saying it is critical for sustainable development on the continent.
They have been speaking at a special event, "Leveraging on strategic foresight for an agile, robust, and forward-looking sustainable industrial development in Africa", on Thursday at the African Economic Conference (AEC) in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.
Fiona Tregenna a Professor at the University of Johannesburg, and Chair of the Industrial Development National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, delivered a paper on Transformative Industrialisation for Africa (TIFA) and links with strategic foresight. She highlighted some of the challenges that have hindered industrialisation on the continent.
According to Tregenna, achieving the Africa we want is not business as usual, otherwise we will not get the transformative change to give us the Africa we want.
She added: "A strategic and systemic approach is critical for a sustainable Africa. We are not looking at interventions that will yield today, but long-term investments."
Mr Ibrahima Sall, former Minister of Planning in Senegal, said engagement with various relevant stakeholders was required for sustainable industrial development in Africa.
"We need a flexible, agile, high-impact industrialisation that is robust. Even in the professor's introduction, it is clear that there are some industrial processes, and we need to keep the strength going. We know how to implement industrial policies, no policy cannot be selective. Otherwise, we will be sprinkling without impacting or wasting capital. So, there must be a selective national champion. How do we build with major stakeholders? What matters most is to look at selectivity and information and inform the states to understand that policies are not made on the ground. The engagement of states is key, and they must pay attention to the industrial sector," Sall said.
He added that selective criteria are critical. The vertical policy of African nations entails focusing on processing raw materials. And we have horizontal and selective, which involve all actions: sustainability, infrastructure, human capital, and technology. With this, states do not need to be flexible but focus on sustainability.
Speaking on Malawi’s strategy, Thomas Munthali, Director General at the country’s National Planning Commission, said that knowing that the effects of climate change were gradually destroying the country, it embarked on climate-resilient infrastructure and appreciated the future of industrialisation.
Munthali urged countries on the continent to venture more into digitisation, engage the private sector to catalyse investments, experiment, and learn from successful nations. He said, "We should be learning from nations. We should try and fail, but never fail to try."
For her part, Hauwa Ibrahim of the Nasarawa State University in Nigeria, said Africa stood at the crossroads of opportunities and challenges.
Ibrahim added that, "While we know there are no perfect policies, those with rooted outcomes stand the test of time. There is a need for research and development on the continent to ensure a sustainable Africa. The demographic population is vital and should be considered because we have many young people and what they are learning now should matter to us. We need to recognise the role of technology and ensure it is applied at all levels. We cannot take out the role of education in defining technology because we do not want to industrialise and have to invest elsewhere, away from the continent, in certain labour forces. Therefore, while we invest in technology, we must also invest in the education of young people."
Earlier, Karima Ben Soltane, the Director of the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), ECA, while moderating the session, said the theme was focused on what African countries needed to enact their policies, implement the SDGs, and make strategic investments, among others.
"What are the key drivers of change in the workforce landscape? We are cognizant that tomorrow's jobs do not exist today. And we need to ensure ways of bringing up initiatives and effectively preparing governments, individuals, institutions, and industries for these changes,” Ben Soltane added.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).