Experts review ECA report on promoting infrastructure development for Africa’s industrialization

Addis Ababa, 31 October 2017 (ECA) – The structural transformation of African economies requires a sound environment that fosters industrialization with strong forward and backward linkages to local economies, says Soteri Gatera, Chief of Infrastructure and Industrialisation in the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) in the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Speaking at an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) to review and validate an RITD report on “Promoting Infrastructure Development for Africa’s Industrialization”, Mr. Soteri added that infrastructure development remained a necessary enabler to the continent’s structural transformation.

“Well-functioning infrastructure assets are key drivers of economic diversification, growth in productivity and revenues, better income distribution and improvement in health and education,” he said.

The RITD Chief said the sustainable development goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 9, and the Africa’s Agenda 2063, recognize the role of infrastructure, innovation and industrial development in meeting their objectives.

“Upgrading and expanding Africa’s infrastructure assets remains vital to maximise ongoing efforts towards regional integration, especially the CFTA,” Mr. Soteri said, adding technology advances and innovation were key to green industrialization and infrastructure.

“It is well known that a sustainable and inclusive development of African economies call for their structural transformation, that is, the transformation of the economies in which resources, including labour and raw materials, largely employed at present in low-value added activities, such as agriculture, are shifted to higher value added sectors, for example, industrial sector,” he added.

This, Mr. Soteri said, would contribute to providing more decent jobs and prosperity for Africans.

“Without a structural transformation, the continent could not meet the objectives of the SDGs and the aspirations of the Agenda 2063; The Africa We want,” he added.

Mr. Soteri’s said the current infrastructure bottlenecks of Africa were well known, adding it was time to address these challenges that include poor road infrastructure and energy issues.

“These infrastructure bottlenecks undermine the competitiveness of Africa’s industrial sector. The poor state of infrastructure development in Africa is estimated to hold back the continent’s growth by 2 percent annually. It is therefore critical to scale up infrastructure investments to increase competitiveness of African economies,” he told experts gathered to critically look at the RITD’s publication.

Mr. Soteri said it was heartening to note that there are ongoing promising efforts to boost industries in Africa with infrastructure promotion at national and regional levels being a catalyst to this.

Some of these efforts are illustrated in the report under review.

The ECA Report on “Promoting Infrastructure Development for Africa’s Industrialisation” generates evidence that promotes infrastructure development in support of economic diversification and industrial development in Africa. 

“The consensus in the continent today is to promote evidence based policy formulation as well as harmonization of standards and practices that catalyse not only infrastructure development but also accelerate industrial development in the continent,” said Mr. Soteri.

Policy research on the linkages between infrastructure and industrialisation in the context of Africa’s economic transformation is key in this regard, he added.

The study, undertaken by the Infrastructure and Industrialisation Section of Regional Integration and Trade Division of ECA, presents the organization’s continued support for Africa’s structural transformation through inclusive economic growth and sustainable industrialisation.

It draws on country case studies and extensive literature search to demonstrate the link between the level, type and patterns of Africa’s industrialisation and existing economic infrastructure, particularly transport assets.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826