The Context

The Annual Meetings:

The Annual Meetings are the African Development Bank’s largest annual event and serve to raise the profile of the institution on the global stage. In addition to the Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, which constitutes the core purpose of the gathering, these Annual Meetings bring together thousands of delegates and participants, and feature a number of official, knowledge and side events.

They provide a unique forum for representatives of government, business, civil society, think-tanks, academia and the media – from Africa and beyond – to debate key issues on Africa’s development, and to discuss the Bank’s performance in delivering on its mandate.

The Bank’s 2018 Annual Meetings will be held on the theme: “Accelerating Africa’s Industrialization” from May 22-25, in Busan, Korea.

Industrializing Africa

Industrialization is a key driver of economic growth and accelerating Africa’s development through industrialization is one of the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities. Despite consistent economic growth over the past two decades, Africa has not seen a commensurate rise in industrialization, which means economies remain largely dependent on agriculture and unprocessed commodities that add relatively little value.

But Africa is at a turning point: the continent has become the second most attractive investment destination in the world; Intra-African investment is on the rise; and investments are diversifying away from the extractives sector.

The structural factors that contributed to the continent’s sustained economic growth such as demographics, growing internal markets, urbanization and technological developments, combined with this favorable scenario as well as with a sound and comprehensive industrial policy, can be the drivers of Africa’s industrial development.

Rapid urbanization offers an opportunity for increased productivity and market development. Demand for digitization has never been greater, and the ICT value chain offers not only the possibility of a large pool of job opportunities, but also promises to shape jobs of the future.

The continent needs to take advantage of the 4th industrial revolution to push a digital transformation agenda. As the fastest-growing digital consumer market Africa can leverage the remaining potential of its mobile market, as well as revolutionize service delivery to overcome infrastructure gaps. And a growing population means a large and young workforce.

The Voices of Africa’s Youth

Today, however, the continent’s youth bear the brunt of the unemployment gap. A third of Africa’s 230 million youths (about 20% of the global youth population) are unemployed or discouraged, another one third are in vulnerable employment largely in the informal sector, while only one sixth are in wage employment.

By 2050, Africa will be the youngest continent in the world, as it is expected that the population of the youth will double from the current 480 million to reach 840 million.

The African Development Bank and President Akinwumi Adesina have put youth at the forefront of the Bank’s priorities. The Jobs for Youth strategy aims to create 25 million jobs and benefit 50 million youth over the next 10 years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs as well as nurturing youth’s entrepreneurship efforts. It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today.

The youth are the present and future of Africa. By leveraging their innovative and creative potential, youth can play a leading and pivotal role in accelerating Africa’s industrialization.