By Lucy Ogalue
A Professor of Economics at the University of Ibadan, Olawale Ogunkola, has advocated the need for policies and strategies that foster efficient industrialisation process in Africa.
Ogunkola, who spoke at a plenary session at the ongoing African Economic Conference (AEC) 2023 in Addis-Ababa, reiterated the need for infrastructure development on the continent to aid industrialisation.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference’s theme is “The Imperative for Sustainable Development in Africa”.
According to Ogunkola, mass production is required to meet market demands, and this will not be profitable if trade costs are not reduced through infrastructure development.
Highlighting the challenges being faced by some countries where Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were isolated, Ogunkola called for an integrated approach and policy coherence.
“The case for infrastructure development is critical for regional value chains.
If we do not address trade costs, making a profit will not be possible.
“For some countries, special economic zones are like military zones; keep off.
They are so disconnected from the domestic economy.
“There is a need for an integrated approach and policy coherence to make Special Economic Zones relevant by linking them to technology transfer and skills development.
“The special zones need to be relevant by being linked to technology transfer and skills development, aligning them with the broader domestic economy,” he said.
The professor also urged governments to ensure the implementation of our policies on the continent, as enacting those policies was not a solution unless they were implemented.
Similarly, Grace Nshemeirwe, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uganda Private Sector Federation, emphasised the need for governments to address trade barriers and finance businesses.
She said: “harmonising trade policies across the region is vital to facilitate trade and enable African countries to compete effectively.
“Access to finance and capacity building cannot be overemphasised; we must do more in product standardisation and packaging in Africa.
The President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Pradep Mehta, said trade policies must evolve to focus on consumer welfare.
He then reiterated the importance of consumer-centric approaches in shaping future trade policies in Africa.
Meanwhile, Dr Joy Kategekwa, the Strategy Advisor at UNDP, who moderated the plenary, also emphasised the transformative potential of Regional Value Chains (RVCs) in Africa’s industrial revolution.
Kategekwa said RVCs enable nations to leverage their comparative and competitive advantages, allowing them to participate in industries that might otherwise be beyond their capacities.
“Africa is industrialising; we must grow bigger and faster,” Dr Kategekwa said.
“This growth requires a multifaceted approach, including consistent government policies, fostering Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), and establishing Special Economic Zones to drive the development of regional value chains.
“Removing barriers to the free movement of people is equally crucial; we can’t trade and industrialise if we can’t move,” Kategekwa said.
NAN reports that the theme of the plenary is “Is Africa having potential for regional value chains?”
The forum is being hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa, and UNDP.
The meeting brought together leaders, youths, African scholars, academics, private sector operators, and development practitioners to deliberate on research and propose policy recommendations on the continent.
========Edited by Ese E.