AfDB Tasks African Leaders on Industrialisation towards Transforming the Continent’s Economies

File photo: African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina.

African Development Bank (AfDB) has urged the continent to accelerate industrialisation for the transformation of African economies.

The multilateral development bank has been at the forefront in promoting smart industrial policies and mobilising infrastructure development funding for Africa.

To this end, the bank has described Industrialising Africa as one of its High-5 key strategic aims, critical for the transformation of African economies.

“Industrialisation, where we add value to what we competitively produce and then export, and also trade among ourselves on the back of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) within a market of 1.3 billion people, should be prioritised and delivered,” said the bank’s Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation, Solomon Quaynor, in a message to mark Africa Industrialisation Day 2020, themed: “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialisation in AfCFTA Era.”

Quaynor noted that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had sharpened the need to accelerate industrialisation and urged a greater role for the private sector, including as a partner to the public sector.

“Resilience is key, and that means no matter the external shocks in the future, we should rebuild so that our people, particularly youth and women who head our households, have jobs and better incomes,” he said.

The bank assured of its commitment to the operationalisation of AfCFTA. In August 2019, the institution extended a sum of $4.8 million grant to support the establishment of AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana.

AfDB is also working with African countries that are developing strategies for implementation of AfCFTA, helping them to build capacity and leverage opportunities provided by freer trade.

When businesses could trade across borders, then industry could expand, economies could be diversified, and countries could move up the value chain, said the bank’s 2020 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) released this week.

The report suggested that the bank’s investments in 2019 benefited one million people. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that benefited from bank projects trebled their turnover to $1 billion.

Several projects recently approved by the bank are expected to help regional member countries exploit opportunities, including the construction and operation of a submarine internet cable in Seychelles and a project to expand access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises in West Africa, the report noted.

The African Development Bank is also promoting development of economic zones that bring together an enabling business environment, backbone integrated infrastructure and transport near to agricultural production hubs.

“Agro-Industrial Processing Zones aim to train young people in rural areas with the needed skills and attract companies, particularly SMEs,” the bank’s Director, Agricultural Finance and Rural Development, Atsuko Toda, also commented.

The pandemic has also spurred opportunities for Africa to strengthen local manufacturing capabilities for basic and essential medicines, personal protective equipment and other medical equipment.

“The bank is undertaking a ground-breaking study to develop a plan for this, which will be ready before the end of the year. The plan will highlight opportunities, challenges, policy reforms required, financing windows and strategic partnerships to be forged to make this happen,” said Director of Industrial and Trade Development at the African Development Bank, Abdu Mukhtar.

Celebrated each year on November 20, Africa Industrialisation Day offers governments and development partners opportunities to explore or highlight initiatives that advance Africa’s industrialisation.

Idowu Sowunmi