Strong economic growth, increasing regional economic integration and diversification, untapped natural resources, high access to mobile technology and a young, entrepreneurial demographic – these drivers have the potential to ensure that many markets in Africa will be capable of not just taking advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution but leapfrogging it. No sector creates jobs, value and growth on the scale manufacturing does. So African nations seeking robust economies cannot stand aside and let this sector die. These are the key areas Africa needs to focus on to achieve its manufacturing potential.
Manufacturing requires access to reliable, efficient and cost-effective energy supplies. Many African countries have significantly expanded their energy generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure with a focus on renewable energy sources like geothermal and wind. Continued capacity improvements, enabled by a more aggressive and prioritized infrastructure development strategy, will be critical in meeting the energy needs of an expanded economy.
Manufacturing relies on global markets, and so access to those markets is key. Trade facilitation is also key; this will involve– working with companies to leverage new technology solutions to meet policy goals, anti-corruption efforts and efficient customs processing while promoting access to input materials for further manufacturing, job creation and product development in Africa for Africa. Enabling market access by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers enables countries to benefit from both innovative new products, such as environmental technologies, that can solve local challenges, as well as access to key inputs that can grow necessary markets.
Enhanced education and skills development
Advanced manufacturing jobs are high-skilled jobs. Global businesses go where the talent is, and we need to make sure that place is Africa. That is going to require enhanced curricula built around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, new recruits to the ranks of qualified educators, and new teaching techniques and innovations in the classroom, especially in science. In addition to fast-tracking local talent, we also have to reconsider our student visa and immigration policies in order to bring in the world’s smartest students and encourage them to stay. This is only possible if education institutions are competitive and world-class.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs)
Improving the business environment requires us to build genuine partnerships between the public sector and the private. This idea of public-private partnerships is critical to every other priority mentioned. We should be working with, not against, each other to create a strong, sustainable framework for growth. This is a common thread running through countries that are succeeding in the global economy.
The world needs solutions for big challenges like energy, climate change, water, food, nature and social issues. Africa’s population is projected to hit 2.4 billion by 2050, putting pressure on resources. Circular business models will ensure optimal utilization of available resources and enhanced productivity across the value chain.
Culled from the World Economic Forum