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Economic Development in Africa Report 2011

Fostering Industrial Development in Africa in the New Global Environment

image of Economic Development in Africa Report 2011

This publication examines the status of industrial development in Africa with a focus on the identification of stylized facts associated with African manufacturing. It provides an analysis of past attempts at promoting industrial development in the region and the lessons learned from these experiences. It offers policy recommendations on how to foster industrial development in Africa in the new global environment characterized by changing international trade rules, growing influence of industrial powers from the South, the internationalization of production, and increasing concerns about climate change. Finally, it argues that a new industrial policy is needed to induce structural transformation and engender development in African economies.

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Introduction

After gaining political independence, which occurred mainly in the 1960s, most African countries started to promote industrialization. The emphasis on industrialization was based on the political conviction by African leaders that it was necessary to ensure self-reliance and reduce dependence on advanced countries. Furthermore, there was the expectation that industrialization would hasten the transformation of African countries from agricultural to modern economies, create employment opportunities, raise incomes as well as living standards, and reduce vulnerability to terms of trade shocks resulting from dependence on primary commodity exports. But during the 1970s, with successive oil shocks and an emerging debt problem, it started to become clear that import substitution industrialization was not sustainable. With the introduction of structural adjustment programmes in the 1980s, African countries curtailed specific policy efforts to promote industrialization and focused on removing anti-export biases and furthering specialization according to comparative advantage. It was expected that competitive pressures would revitalize economic activity by leading to the survival of the fittest. But whilst these policies were certainly intended to have structural effects, the conventional view is that they did not boost industrialization in the region (Soludo, Ogbu and Chang 2004).

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