Dakar, Senegal, 26 March 2017 (ECA) – African experts converged in Dakar Sunday to discuss industrialization and infrastructure development on the continent with many agreeing more still needs to be done to ensure Africa is able to industrialize and create jobs for its youthful population.
In his paper during the regional meeting on innovations in infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization, Stephen Karingi, Director of the Economic Commission for Africa’s Capacity Development Division, said Africa still faces serious infrastructure shortcomings, both in terms of access and quality, despite the important contribution it has to leverage industrial potential.
“Albeit with some regional and national disparities, the continent is broadly characterized by poor transportation network,” said Mr. Karingi.
“Also the power that is needed to scale industrial plants remains grossly inadequate and access to ICTs still has a long way to go in most countries although progress has been made over the past few years.
His presentation evolved around the nexus between infrastructure development and industrialization, state of infrastructure development and industrialization in Africa and infrastructure development and industrializing efforts in Africa.
“Well-functioning infrastructure assets contribute to increasing cost efficiency by lowering production costs, improving access to larger regional markers, through regional integration, for productive resources and industrial output thereby creating new production, trade and business opportunities,” Mr. Karingi told the high-level meeting.
He said good quality infrastructure is a key determinant of countries’ and regions’ attractiveness to foreign direct investment hence the need for the continent to come together to develop infrastructure that will enable its transformation.
“Good infrastructure assets also yield education and health outcomes that serve the industrial. Good water and sanitation facilities result in better health and increased productivity of workers; road networks improve access of patients to hospitals while well-functioning medical centers would have to rely on good electricity supply,” Mr. Karingi noted.
“On the other hand, industrial development of a country would require specific infrastructure which suggests industrialization could also be a catalyst for infrastructure development.”
Participants also discussed the state of Africa’s transport network, which remains poor as characterized by low railway density as compared to other regions, access to energy, and CTs performance, noting although the continent has made progress in the past few years, it remains the poorest performing continent in terms of ICT development.
Mr. Karingi said Africa like some other developing regions, including Latin America, has recorded a decreasing of industrial and manufacturing contribution to GDP, a situation often referred to as de-industrialization.
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