The fruitful partnership between The African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) and The University of Johannesburg (UJ), which has seen the delivery of various short courses focusing on topics of relevance to Africa’s development, culminated in the launch of a joint two-year MPHIL degree programme in Industrial Policy. UJ hosted the official launch of the programme on Monday, 18 April 2016 at the University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), on its Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus.
The purpose of the programme is to develop the students’ intellectual competencies, intellectual independence and practical skills in the acquisition, analysis, interpretation and application of appropriate industrial policies to support the structural transformation of the economies of the continent.
The new UJ-IDEP MPhil in Industrial Policy is for the benefit of middle and senior level policy officials in Government Ministries/Departments, Regional Economic Communities (RECS) and others in the private sector as well as non-governmental actors involved in designing, managing, monitoring and evaluating industrial development policies.
IDEP offered 10 full scholarships to eligible public officials from African member States who are actively involved in the formulation of Industrial Policy in their respective countries. The MPHIL Industrial Policy Programme currently has 10 International and 9 Domestic Students attending the lectures.
In his opening speech, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg reiterated the University’s commitment to the partnership with IDEP which has yielded the MPhil in Industrial Policy, a great contribution to the capacity development of African public officials and thereby the achievement of socio-economic development in Africa. He called on increased investment in research and innovation in order to achieve sustainable and environmentally-friendly industrialisation.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Dr. Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, Director of IDEP, highlighted the pivotal role that Industrialisation should plan in Africa’s development agenda. She noted the differing approaches to industrialisation, results and impact on people’s welfare that African countries have attained in recent years and encouraged the adoption of diversification strategies that ensure higher value addition through the development of higher-productivity sectors, including competitive manufacturing and high-end services, promoting export earnings, and creating more decent and sustainable job opportunities, notably for the youth who represent the largest part of the African population. Citing the potential market of more than a billion people in Africa, she stressed on the need for regional cooperation and integration on the continent and the boosting of both intra-African and global trade which are very low in comparison to other regional groups and continents respectively. In addition to political vision and will, she called for the need for African countries to increase their investment in research and development, innovation, more participation in the knowledge economy, and investment in infrastructure. “It is in this context that IDEP has partnered with the University of Johannesburg to offer a Master’s degree programme in Industrial Policy” she said, adding that IDEP does not see this programme as just another academic programme, but rather a means to equip African public officials with the necessary skills to contribute to industrial policy planning, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
Representing the Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Mr. Nimrod Zalk, Industrial Policy and Strategy Advisor with the Department of Trade and Industry applauded the joint initiative as a much-needed intervention to support industrialisation efforts across Africa and pledged the support of the Department to the programme.
Mr. Souleymane Abdallah, Economic Affairs Officer, Regional Integration and Trade Division of the Economic Commission for Africa, in his keynote address remarked that the continent accounts for a negligible share of global industrial output and manufactured exports. He deplored the lack of meaningful structural economic transformation from an agro-based economy to an industrialized economy as a primary issue hampering Africa’s development. He noted that the potential for industrial development in Africa was very high, citing the current fall in commodity prices are an opportunity for more economic diversification. He emphasized the role of industrial policy implementation frameworks in pioneering the socio-economic transformation of the continent and joined the Director in lauding the joint IDEP/UJ Master of Philosophy in Industrial Policy and its expected contribution to sound governance across the continent.
Prof. Samantha Ashman, Director of the UJ-IDEP MPhil in Industrial Policy at the UJ stressed on the importance of industrial policy for economic diversification, structural transformation, economic growth and poverty reduction most especially that after half a century post-independence, most African countries remain dependent on exports of mineral and agricultural commodities in a raw or semi-processed state. She pointed out that increasing knowledge and skills in the area of Industrial Policy is vital for the continent, and the partnership between IDEP and UJ will make an important contribution.