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Africa's industrial sector to hit 25 pct of GDP

11 June 2013, 16:15

Nairobi - The African continent has the potential to expand its industrial sector to contribute at least 25 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), a UN official said on Monday.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Director, Bureau for Regional Programs Amita Misra said that the sector on average currently contributes less than 15 percent of the GDP across the continent.

Misra was speaking on the sidelines of the meeting of senior officials of 20th edition of the Conference of African Ministers of Industry (CAMI 20).

The five-day event held on June 10-14 will assist the continent to develop its industrialization strategy. The experts meeting is co-hosted by UNIDO, African Union Commission (AUC) and the Kenya Government.

"The conference comes at a time when Africa is developing its post-2015 development agenda, which is supposed to result into the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals," she said.

"Only when a minimum of 25 percent of GDP emanates from the industrial sector, will Africa be able to achieve the desired economic growth rate, jobs creation and economic transformation that is needed to eliminate poverty," Misra added.

The director noted that funds mobilization remains a major hindrance to the realization of set goals of various industrial programs.

"The region should therefore leverage new partnerships and collaboration with the European Union, the emerging nations as well as the growing South-South cooperation in order to bridge the gap," she said.

Misra said that UNIDO is working with various economic blocs in Africa in order to develop industrial projects. "The ones that can be transformed into fundable projects will be submitted to the African Development Bank," she said.

The UNIDO official said that Africa needs to upgrade and modernize its productive capacities so as to spur industrialization.

"This will enhance the accessibility of African products in the international market," Misra said.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Director of Regional Integration Stephen Karingi decried Africa's high dependency on exports of primary raw materials.

"This coupled with low use of technology, high energy costs has contributed to Africa's low economic development levels," Karingi said. He noted that the continent needs to take advantage of new opportunities offered by the globalization of industrial production.

"This will assist the continent to convert its agricultural and mineral raw materials resources into finished goods," Karingi said.

The outgoing chair of CAMI, Ould Mohammedi, said successful implementation of the African industrialization strategy will increase intra-Africa trade.

Ministry of Industrialization Permanent Secretary Cyrus Njiru said the meeting is expected to provide the template for discussing the best way to accelerate industrialization in the continent.

He added that experience has indicated that the countries that have prioritized industrialization as the driver of economic development have succeeded in attaining high per capita incomes.

According to Njiru, Kenya has developed a Sessional Paper on an Industrialization Policy. "It will provide a framework that will steer Kenya's industrialization efforts up to the year 2030," Njiru said.

"We have also formulated programs and projects for implementation in order to increase value-addition of raw materials," he said.

He noted that Kenya will also pay close attention to the development of integrated steel mills, because the affordability of steel is a key component of industrialization.

AUC Director of Trade Treasure Maphanga said Africa is the least-developed manufacturing region of the world.

"In fact, only a handful of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have succeeded in developing a sizeable manufacturing sector," she said.

The director urged the continent to take full advantage of new opportunities offered by the globalization of industrial production.

"The experience of east Asia provides ample evidence of the strong link between industrialization and high standards of living, " she said. 



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