Dakar, June 26, 2018 - As part of its series of seminars, IDEP hosted a panel discussion on « Is Africa ready to invest in a green industry ? ». This seminar brought together more than twenty African experts : officials from Member States meeting on the occasion of the program of capacity building on industrial policies, as well as academics working on issues relating to the industrial development of the continent. The roundtable was held on June 26, 2018 in the IDEP conference room.
The seminar was furnished with two presentations on « The importance of greening industrialization : critical issues, opportunities and challenges » and « Is Africa ready to invest in a green industry ? » Respectively delivered by Dr. Adetunji Babatunde, University of Ibadan (Nigeria) and Dr. Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, Director of IDEP, followed by a very rich discussion.
The introductory presentation by Dr. Babatunde provided a platform for the topic, while Dr. Ben Soltane's presentation attempted to provide some answers to the question of whether Africa is ready for a green industry.
According to Dr. Babatunde, history shows that industrialization leads to structural transformation. However, to embark on a path of sustainable development, fossil fuels will have to give way to renewable energy in Africa, he adds. In the opinion of some participants, to achieve a qualitative leap towards sustainable development, the African continent has no choice. It will have to industrialize more but above all to do so by respecting ecological standards, gradually, while creating for its population, green employment opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and clean energy. There are, of course, concessions to be made and there are indeed significant gains for Africa to develop a green economy.
Technological innovations significantly reduce the costs of renewable energy and provide economies of scale. According to Dr. Ben Soltane, countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria and Kenya had already understood that when they launched a few years ago, respectively, in the use of ICT for development, the film industry (Nollywood) and mobile money transfer (M-Pesa). The interest of greening African industry is that in the long run: (1) cost savings can be realized, (2) resilient development is guaranteed with low-polluting industrial activities; (3) growth will be inclusive.
If we make a slight economic assessment of the continent, we will observe that despite the relatively good economic performance, problems still remain to know: the engines of its growth, still non-inclusive, lack diversification, poverty rates and inequalities remain high, the job market is not changing much with an informal sector that continues to be too large, environmental risks undermine development. "All this shows the relevance of the commitment of African leaders to re-examine the industrialization of Africa, with the objective of being green," said Dr. Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, Director of IDEP.
According to her, a priori answer is that Africa is preparing for a green industrialization, but is it ready, the answer would not be very precise given that the majority of its countries have considered isolated actions but no have not put in place real plans for the development of a green industry or integrated in their national planning. Another challenge would be technical capacity to raise awareness and effectively implement a green industrialization strategy, she adds.
However, the moment is propitious for embarking on a green industrialization, considering the conclusions of the conference on the financing of the development, the signing of the agreements of free African trade (#AfCFTA), the opportunities offered by the 2030 and 2063 agendas. South Africa, Malawi, Mauritius, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia have already set up green initiatives in the areas of renewable energy, bio-ethanol production, green agro-industrial value chains, the blue economy, the creation of eco-industrial parks.
An imperative for successful green industrialization is the presence of strong visionary leadership and the existence of government-level capacity to drive change. IDEP will continue to play its role of trainer of African managers in the field of industrial development of the continent, including encouraging green industrialization, says the Director.
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