Latecomers grow rapidly - Jeffrey Sachs

Addis Ababa, 14 July 2015 (ECA) - There are lots of advantages for Africa as a newcomer or latecomer to industrialization says Jeffrey Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute; Columbia University.

Meanwhile, Sachs said that the much-touted 5-6% growth rate of Africa was far below its potential, worrisome and unable to deliver industrialization at the rate and scale it needs. “Africa should aim high, it should grow above 10% in the next 15 years of the SDG period” he said.

Speaking during a panel of experts at the forum for the Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development ISID in Ethiopia, Sachs said that history was replete with latecomers who grew rapidly such as Singapore, and notably China; growing to become the second biggest economy in the world. “Africa’s next 50 years should emulate China’s last 30 years.” He said Africa had better models of how to develop from China such as the economic zone models. Africa he said had many characteristics –and it was for each region to build an industrial cluster.

Sachs urged Africa to use aback-log of technology and tap intomajor untapped energy resources found in just about every sector across the continent. He cited energy capacities of different countries from Ethiopia and Cameroon’s hydro-power projects to Mozambique’s natural gas resources and the Sahel. “The Sahel could provide enough electricity for the entire world if it wanted” he said.

Sachs echoed the views of ECA Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes who earlier in the same meeting and at other forums has argued that although Africa was a latecomer to industrialization and facing many “latecomer challenges” there was a lot that Africa could take advantage of; such as a growing African market, the cost of renewable energies, the technological leap frog in mobile banking and the demographic dividend.

Talking about demographic dividend, Sachs argued that demographic dividend was not the abundance of unskilled youth.

He said Africa needed to look into reducing fertility rates which currently stood at an average of 5 children per woman.  He argued that all countries that industrialized implemented policies to reduce fertility including China’s one child policy. If you have one child, you will put all the resources in educating that one child” he said.

Meanwhile Honorary Dean, National School Development, Beijing University said Africa needs targeted industrial policies and a focus on comparative advantage.

The ISID forum was officially opened by the Prime minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn held at the side of the Financing for Development Conference taking place in Addis Ababa between 13-16 July.

Other expert panelists included Vice President, European Investment Bank, Ambroise Fayolle and CEO, International Finance Corporation, Jin-Yong Cai among others

The ISID forum was organized by UNIDO in partnership with ECA, the Governments of Ethiopia and Senegal respectively.


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