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Is time running out for Africa to industrialize? [Business Africa]

United Nations Industrial Development Organization's Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento during the interview with Business Africa presenter Ronald Kato   -  
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Business Africa

Despite efforts made by countries over the years to industrialize, Africa's share of global manufacturing remains negligible.

Manufacturing has been touted as the key to unlocking productive jobs, bigger export revenues, and sustainable development.

In 2019, Africa’s industrial GDP expanded by 17% to $731 billion, with the value-added of manufacturing surging by 39%, according to the African Development Bank.

The continent’s industrialization is geographically limited though, with around two-thirds of value-added manufacturing taking place in just five nations; South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Nigeria.

Almost all African countries have industrialization as a goal in their respective National Development Plans.

But Africa remains the world's least industrialized region.

Only South Africa is categorized as industrialized. The United Nations declared 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa. The agency has been working with the African Union, sub-regional organizations, and individual countries to support trade and investment.

With the pandemic, a recession, and the war in Ukraine, there is concern that the window of opportunity for Africa to become a manufacturing hub is closing fast.

Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento who is the managing director in charge of digitalization, technology, and agri-business at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) joins the show to talk about what countries can, and what others are doing to realize their industrialization goals.

Burundi eyes industry for jobs, growth

Per its development blueprint known as Vision 2025, Burundi aims to build a competitive and diversified economy.

Agro-processing and value addition to coffee, cotton, and minerals are key features of the country’s plan to move into light manufacturing.

South African manufacturing contracts

South Africa’s manufacturing sector had had a solid first quarter of 2022 but flooding which struck the country’s industrial heartland of Kwazulu Natal affected its momentum.

The country’s statistics agency said in its June report that output fell by 7.8 percent in April as over 800 factories were forced to suspend operations.

Rolling blackouts too have affected the sector, which is attempting to recover from the pandemic.