• Embassy of Ethiopia

African economies should be transformed through industrialization

A senior UN official has underlined the need that African economies must be transformed through industrialization.

Although Africa has experienced unprecedented growth over the past decade, the continent remains home to the world's highest proportion of poor people, noted Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Lopes said it is imperative that the continent focuses on the potential offered by industrialization.

Lopes was speaking early this week at the conclusion of the African Transformation Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, according to an ECA statement released in Addis Ababa Thursday.

He said the African continent should industrialize through the expansion of commodities value chains, through the positioning for agro-business to act as the pull factor for agricultural to get out of the doldrums, and through the capacity to attract low-value manufacturing production facing rising labor costs in Asia.

"We need to look at the industrialization as a multi-faceted way. It is not just producing the manufactured goods. It is about transforming the society's structural production into much high gear," he said.

The UN official said the industrialization Africa needs should be specific to the African conditions and be linked to agricultural transformation.

"Because our agriculture has the lowest productivity in the world, the only way we are going to be able to catch up with productivity is by linking it to agro processing," he said,

"There is a huge demand for processing food in Africa," said Lopes. "If we industrialize part of agricultural outputs, we are satisfying our internal market and we are creating possibilities of increasing productivity."

The two-day African Transformation Forum (ATF), which ended on Tuesday, was aimed at helping equip African countries with the knowledge and tools to pursue transformative growth.