The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has made a compelling case for accelerating Africa’s industrialisation in order to create jobs, reduce poverty and promote inclusive economic growth. Citing data from the Bank’s 2018 African Economic Outlook launched in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Wednesday, Adesina said infrastructure projects were among the most profitable investments any society can make as they “significantly contribute to, propel, and sustain a country’s economic growth. Infrastructure, when well-managed, provides the financial resources to do everything else.”
Noting that economic diversification is key to resolving many of the continent’s difficulties, he urged African governments to encourage a shift toward labour-intensive industries, especially in rural areas where 70 percent of the continent’s population resides. “Agriculture must be at the forefront of Africa’s industrialisation,” he said, adding that integrated power and adequate transport infrastructure would facilitate economic integration, support agricultural value chain development and economies of scale which drive industrialisation.
He reminded the audience of policy-makers and members of the diplomatic corps in Côte d’Ivoire that economic diversification via industrialisation with tangible investment in human capital will enable the continent’s rapidly growing youth population to successfully transition to productive technology-based sectors.
Adesina also highlighted the relatively unknown win-win situation that Africa’s industrialisation can generate within the developed world, citing data from the report, which notes that “increasing the share of manufacturing in GDP in Africa (and other Less Developing Countries) could boost investment in the G20 by about US $485 billion and household consumption by about US $1.4 trillion.”
The Bank President highlighted various innovative ways in which Africa countries can generate capital for infrastructure development and what the Bank is doing through its ambitious High 5 development agenda to address the issues raised in the report. He announced that the Bank would organise the Africa Investment Forum on November 7-8, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mobilise funds for infrastructure development, to bridge an estimated funding gap of $130-$170 billion a year, up from previous estimates of US $100 billion per year