Under the Theme Made In Africa As A Pillar For African Economic Integration, Industrialisation And Transformation Agenda, ARSO held its 2nd Arso President Forum and Made in Africa Conference and Expo 2017 on 1st – 4th March 2017 at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Available data highlights that virtually all cases of high, rapid and sustained economic growth in modern economic development have been associated with industrialization, particularly growth in manufacturing production (UNCTAD – Policy Brief, No. 27, August 2013). Industry was key to the explosive and continued growth in Asia and Europe, and without concentration on or support of the manufacturing sector, African economies are not likely to replicate those convergence dynamics (Rodrik, 2014). Experts have revealed that in many African countries, a relatively small manufacturing sector reduces the potential for participation Global trade and regional value chains and provides additional incentives for specialisation in primary sectors. Mr. Alexis Akwagyiram, in an article, Made in Africa: Is manufacturing taking off on the continent? BBC Africa (2014) points out that several African countries have enjoyed economic growth in recent years but there are fears that a failure to develop manufacturing could prove to be costly. He points out that “Made in China” is a stamp that is ubiquitous and can be found on a wide range of objects – anything from T-shirts and shoes, to watches and televisions – worldwide. The same is true of labels showing that an object originated in Taiwan or Vietnam. But it is rare to find an object which has a mark that points to origins in African country – “Made in Nigeria” or “Made in Chad”, for example. The concern is, Africa only commands meagre 1.5% share of the world’s total manufacturing output with strong indication that the current trend is likely to continue through 2015 (UNIDO 2013). This is against 24.7% for Europe, 21.7% share for the Asia Pacific region, 17.2% for East Asia and North America’s 22.4% share, 5.8% Latin America.
The event was meant to create more awareness on the need for manufacturing and trading in African Products and the importance of Quality Infrastructure in the process. In his speech, the Chief Guest, the Zimbabwean Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr. Mike Dimba highlighted that that standards are the backbone of manufacturing and trade and Made in Africa is a way of facilitating manufacturing and industrialisation and Quality Infrastructure as the determining factor. The vent was attended by representatives of Sixteen (16) African countries (Benin, Botswana, DR Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and Observer Missions (ACP-EU-TBT Programme, UNECA, RECs (ECOWAS) and Zimbabwe Companies, His Worship the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Victoria Falls, and the Officials of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.