African countries urged to leverage urbanization to accelerate industrialization

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Lusaka, Zambia, 19 June 2017 (ECA)‐ With the right policy frameworks in place, urbanization can be used as a tool for boosting industrialization for greater prosperity, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Director for the Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa, Said Adejumobi, said at the launch of the 2017 edition of the Economic Report on Africa in Lusaka.

Mr. Adejumobi said urban demand for goods and services, well-balanced urban systems, and spatial planning can all be powerful assets for industrialization through cross-sectoral policy frameworks anchored in national development planning.

The 2017 ERA’s theme is; Urbanization and Industrialization for Africa’s Transformation.

Mr. Adejumobi acknowledged that urbanization comes with both costs and opportunities, but noted that with sufficient planning it has the potential to support Africa’s industrialization.

“For urbanization to connect to industrialization, state policy and presence is inevitable. A viable industrial policy that identifies and taps into urban resources with strategic urban planning, is central in making urbanization work for industrialization,” he said.

“Small scale enterprises, the informal sector, technological innovation, and a ready and capable workforce are some of the opportunities that a well-managed urbanization process may offer for economic development in Africa,” Mr. Adejumobi added.

The representative of the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, John Mulongoti, told participants at the launch that Africa should take advantage of the report and use it for planning purposes.

“The task before us now is to capitalize on our achievements thus far and exert even greater effort on follow-up actions such as ensuring that we reduce the cost of doing business for potential industrialists and investors, strengthen the institutions of governance and forge strategic partnerships with key stakeholders such as the private sector in harnessing the opportunities that rapid urbanization and industrialization present for structural transformation,” said Mr. Mulongoti.

He highlighted a number of steps the Zambian government has taken to leverage the country’s rapid urbanization rate to promote industrialization.

New policies, including the National Industrial Policy and the National Urbanization Policy, when approved by Cabinet, will form the basis for accelerating Zambia’s industrialization agenda, Mr. Mulongoti added.

The Economic Report on Africa is a flagship publication of ECA. Drawing on a wide array of sources, including case studies from across the continent, the 2017 edition highlights policy intervention areas essential for ensuring that Africa’s urbanization supports its industrialization.   

The report outlines key policy priorities that member States may consider, including linking urban and industrial strategies to broader national goals such as employment creation, poverty reduction and improving the quality of life in both urban and rural areas through national development planning. 

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Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
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E-mail: ecainfo@uneca.org