Despite the high and sustained growth during the past decade, most Africa economies are still driven by commodity production and export of agricultural and mining products. There is a growing consensus that for Africa’s sustained economic growth over the last decade to be inclusive and sustainable over the long term, there is need for diversification of Africa’s production and export base, reduced dependency on few commodities, addition of value to particularly main exports, and regional integration for expanding intra-African market-base. These, among other measures, will lead to transformation of Africa, expansion of trade volumes and opportunities and bring about shared prosperity for all Africans. African leaders have declared industrialization and trade to be key strategies to achieving these aspirations, and even adopted the Action Plan for Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA) to seize emerging opportunities to foster industrial development as an effective, socially responsible and sustainable means to economic transformation. Furthermore, Africa is pursuing an integration agenda as a collective development and transformation strategy leading to the eventual creation of a continental market. Regional integration helps develop larger markets, foster greater competition and improve policy stance in many areas of the development agenda. And indeed, the pressure of globalization is forcing firms and countries to seek efficiency through larger markets and enhanced competition. A modern manufacturing plant will have to produce a larger output than the low level of domestic demand that a single underdeveloped country can absorb. Pooling economies and markets together through trade and regional integration thus provides a sufficiently wide economic and market space to make it possible for trade to exploit economies of scale.
The panel is invited to discuss the following:
- What are the key constraints to industrialization and trade for Africa’s transformation – and what role should Governments and other non-State actors play in addressing those binding constraints to trade and industrial development?
- What lessons can Africa draw from previous experience including East Asian to inform Africa’s industrialization drive, especially in addressing the key challenges (in terms of policy and implementation)?
- How best can Africa deal with the opportunities and challenges presented by globalization – in particular, harnessing the growing cooperation with its Southern partners like the BRICs and others?
- With regard to FfD, how can African countries reinvigorate the role of DFIs, as well as improve the mobilization of domestic resources to promote trade and industrial development – at the national, regional and continental levels?