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African Organisation for Standardisation

Made in Africa: Toward an Industrialization Strategy for the Continent

The Made in Africa is ARSO’S strategy to bring to the attention of the world and the African policy makers the status of the African Industrialisation, the challenges faced by African Entreprenuers and SMEs and the role of standardisation in facilitating Industrialisation.

Any standard will have one or more of four main kinds of function in relation to productivity and boosting trade and industrialisation:

  • Providing for inter-operability or compatibility between different parts of a product or between products as part of a system or network.
  • The provision of a minimum level of quality, which may be defined in terms of functionality or safety of products.
  • The reduction of variety, allowing for economies of scale.
  • The provision of information.

MADE IN AFRICA EXPO – Role of Industrialization inAfrica..

Tanzania’s Industry representatives follow proceedings at the 22nd GA Events.

Made in Africa event is important with regard to the November 20th, the Africa’s day of Industrialization. November 20th was declared to be Africa Industrialization Day, during the 25th General Session of the Government of the Organization of African Unity and Assembly of Heads of State, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July, 1989. On December 22th, 1989, the UN General Assembly also proclaimed this date to be Africa Industrialization Day and was first observed on November 20, 1990.  The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda recognises the important role that trade can play as a driver of sustainable and inclusive development. For this potential to materialise in Africa, however, the continent will have to tackle a pervasive challenge, Industrialization.

Industry is important to low-income countries and the world over. Historically, industry is the sector into which resources have first moved in the course of economic development. Industry is the pre-eminent destination sector at early stages of development because it is a high productivity sector capable of absorbing large numbers of moderately skilled workers.  But Africa’s failure to industrialize is striking. In 2013 the average share of manufacturing in GDP in sub-Saharan Africa was about 10 percent, half of what would be expected from the region’s level of development. Moreover, it has not changed since the 1970s. Africa’s share of global manufacturing has fallen from about 3 percent in 1970 to less than 2 percent in 2013. (UNIDO 2013). In such apparently baffling scenarios lies one of Africa’s greatest challenges and opportunities. The continent possesses 12 percent of the world’s oil reserves, 40 percent of its gold and between 80 percent and 90 percent of its chromium and platinum, according to a 2013 report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It is also home to 60 percent of the world’s underutilized arable land and has vast timber resources. (UNCTAD 2013).

This lack of industrial dynamism is a growing matter of concern to Africa’s political leaders, as well. The U.N.’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has published a major report (Economic Report on Africa 2016) on industrialization in Africa where it asserts that Structural transformation in Africa’s economies remains the highest priority, and industrialization is the top strategy for achieving it in practice.

The African Union has adopted an “Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa.” And the newly adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight the need for job creation and industrialization, two themes introduced largely at the request of African governments. This is with respect to Goal 8.  Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; and Goal 9.  Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (UN, (A/70/L.1-2015).

  1. In 2013, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, AUC Chairperson noted that “ Industrialization cannot be considered a luxury, but a necessity for the continent’s development,”.
  2. Ibrahim Mayaki, the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), said industrialization will create jobs for youth in Africa, and its growth will come from there. He made the remarks on Saturday at the 35th NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) meeting held at the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali.
  3. In 2012, in a one day workshop organised to create awareness on industrialization and Africa-intra trade, at Bakhresa Grain Mills (Azam), in Kigali, Rwandese Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba enumerated constraints faced by African economic operators such as access to finance, poor quality of business environment, lack of suitable technology and innovations.

Africa’s failure to industrialize has also come to the attention of a growing number of observers, including the venerable magazine, The Economist. In its November 7 issue,  The Economist noted with some alarm at the fact that “many African countries are deindustrializing while they are still poor, raising the worrying prospect that they will miss out on the chance to grow rich by shifting workers from farms to higher-paying factory jobs.”

On 12 April 2016, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative, the African Development Bank, and the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) co-hosted a conversation on the new book Made in Africa: Learning to Compete in Industry  (moderated by John Page, a senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D. C. and a nonresident senior fellow of the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research in Helsinki, Finland)  at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. The book presents the main results of Learning to Compete (L2C), a multi-year, comparative research program investigating the seemingly simple, but frustratingly puzzling question: Why is there so little industry in Africa? ( At the event, panelists, including, Kapil Kapoor, Acting Vice President for Sector Operations and Director of Strategy and Operational Policy, African Development Bank Group, discussed why industry matters for Africa, whether it is realistic for Africa to attempt to break into global markets in manufacturing, and policy options available to African governments to promote industrial development. The discussion also explored the role of Africa’s “development partners” in supporting a new agenda for industrialisation.

During the 22nd ARSO GA events, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards hosted a five day (20-24th June 2016) Made in Africa Expo to highlight the role of local Industries in the industrialization process in Africa and how standardisation can facilitate the process.

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