Towards harmonizing and consolidating Central Africa’s industrialization and diversification masterplans

Yaounde, June 5, 2020 (ECA) - In collaboration with the CEMAC Commission, the General Secretariat of ECCAS and the Technical Secretariat of the Steering Committee for the Rationalization of Regional Economic Communities in Central Africa (COPIL / CER-AC), the Sub-regional Office for Central Africa of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), has convened a virtual meeting to launch the process of harmonizing and consolidating the zone’s regional industrialization and economic diversification master plans (PDIDE / Central Africa) from 9:00 Yaounde time on June 17, 2020. Here is the meeting’s access link:

The consultation will bring together designated senior officials from the ministries of planning, economy, industry, finance, foreign affairs and regional integration from the following eleven countries: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and the Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

It will involve exchanging with the Member States, who’ve all proved to be keen on the pursuit of new pathways to development, on the strategy and the modalities for reactivating a sub-regional PDIDE redesigned to guarantee quality, more inclusive, greener, cleaner and certainly more digitally-led growth.

The idea of ​​the new generation of PDIDE in Central Africa was born from the observation that despite their strong endowments in natural and human resources, the economies of the sub-region have never been industrialized or diversified enough to guarantee job-creating and inclusive growth that would lead to sustainable development. These countries have instead suffered, on several occasions, from exogenous economic shocks linked to fluctuations in the prices of the raw materials which have constituted their major export products since the years of Independence. The waves of other cumulative shocks, including that of COVID-19, are no exception.

The situation is also explained by the weak capacity of the countries of the sub-region to tilt their production, processing and distribution structures towards activities with greater added value, involving more sophisticated technologies (in the categories of medium and high technologies).

The shortcomings in the structural transformation of the economies of the subregion are evident in the latest UNIDO industrial performance competitive indices, which assesses 150 countries according to their capacity to produce and export manufactured goods, the degree of their technological depth and modernization and their weighted impact on global manufacturing. Most Central African countries are in the fifth quintile of the 2018 ranking.

This is why the CEMAC Commission, the General Secretariat of ECCAS and the Technical Secretariat of COPIL/CER-AC, with the support of ECA, are calling upon their member States to formulate a new generation of industrialization and economic diversification masterplans (PDIDEs) in order to gain more in resilience, competitiveness and prosperity.

This approach is in line with the Douala Consensus of 2017 which is a call for economic diversification in Central Africa hinged on industrialization and driven by trade to usher-in a new paradigm of “Made in Central Africa."

Although some Central African countries have already developed industrialization masterplans, it turns out that these plans could not have made a big difference because of some gaps such as: the lack of vision on regional and transboundary issues and opportunities, the absence of robust analyses on repositioning in the emerging competitive space, as well as inadequate consultations with national organizations and the private sector, among other difficulties.

It will also be a question of learning the lessons of the current global health crisis and sharing a faultless diagnosis of the new situation. This would lead to a common strategy which takes into account new geostrategic and socio-economic challenges and the imperatives of survival and economic resilience in a post-COVID-19 world and in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Zone (AfCFTA).

The PDIDE strategy and action plan to revive the engines of economic growth intend to unravel new priorities, orientations and strategic choices to transform the economies of the sub-region, taking advantage of its endowments in natural resources as well as unlimited upmarket opportunities in several lucrative regional value chains.  The most obvious of these, in the context of COVID-19, are: agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, energy supply and crude oil refining.

PDIDE-Central Africa will cover the period 2020 - 2063, with emphasis on strategies for light manufacturing and the development of products and services with high added value staged through short, medium and long term plans. This will follow the Apollo approach – a four-step problem-solving model which defines issues, determines their causes, finds effective solutions to and gives assurances that the problem will not recur.  



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