Africa Progress: Regional Approach a Must

Published on 28th May 2013

Africa has the greatest manufacturing, and growth potential among the countries sharing the Indian, Atlantic, and Mediterranean Oceans and their coastlines in North and South America, Middle East and Asia. If their exploitation is well organized and managed, the continent could become a global manufacturing hub.

Africa is strategically located on the interface of the world’s leading marine trade exchange between markets within and around the Atlantic, Indian and Mediterranean Oceans. Africa’s climate, abundance of mineral resources, fertile land, and freshwater bodies places it on a higher position to lead the world as the next manufacturing hub of the world. With its population of 1 billion people, growth rate of 3 % and the expanding middle class, Africa is becoming a big market within itself.

Despite being blessed with what is required to become a global player in manufacturing and processing, Africa is still one of the least industrialized continents, a net exporter of cheap raw materials and an importer of costly manufactured goods.

Africa’s present share of global manufacturing is a paltry 1%, and this is shrinking, as it is labor intensive, has limited financing, and experiences unreliable and costly power supply and transportation of raw materials. This makes the sector uncompetitive compared to highly efficient and cost effective modern technologies in advanced nations where financing, reliable energy and huge markets are available.

Africa has also failed to secure its deserved share of global manufacturing revenue because instead of bargaining as a bloc, individual countries go it alone in exploitation of natural resources. This uncoordinated and solo move coupled with small domestic markets does not accord significant revenues to respective countries.

Policies and legislations governing investing in infrastructure development, manufacturing and exploitation of natural resources  in African countries are not harmonized. Consequently,  as the African countries compete among themselves for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), they can not dictate their own terms for win-win relationships. this curtails optimal development of manufacturing potential and markets throughout the African Continent.

Having all African manufacturing and marketing potentials well covered with reliable and cost effective networks of materials, transport and power is essential  to minimizing the cost of manufacturing in Africa, smoothening the movement of materials among its fast growing population of more than 1 billion, and realizing natural competitiveness for Global investing in manufacturing.

Lack of foundational infrastructure required for the African Continent to realize its natural competitiveness in the global manufacturing has forced some African countries to remain net exporters of unprocessed raw materials, and importers of costly manufactured goods. This is economically unproductive because earnings are a fraction of the natural wealth inherent in its exports of unprocessed raw materials. Nonetheless, as it imports costly manufactured goods, the Continent continues to plunge deep into poverty due to the expanding balance of payment in respective countries. As a net exporter of raw materials and huge importer of manufactured goods, the Continent slides backwards in manufacturing technology, hence becoming unproductive and poorer. On the other hand, energy shortage caused by poor hydropower generation in places like Grand Inga, the Stigler’s Dam in Congo and Tanzania respectively leads to wastage of  development potential.

African Governments ought to review and harmonize their individual development policies, legislations and programs with a view of efficiently exploiting the wealth inherent in natural resources (like nonrenewable mineral resources and power generation potential) within individual African countries.

Africa should engage the power of collective responsibility to craft an African agenda that will free the continent from chronic dependence on developed nations for aid, which discourages collaboration among African countries in favour of collaboration with the developed donor nations in the management and exploitation of their natural resources. Chronic dependence on aid is one of the main causes behind the negligible African contribution of the scientific and technological advances governing competitiveness in all modern processes of global wealth creation.

African objectives should include:

• enabling African countries to formulate and dictate common terms in their collaboration with non African countries in the management and exploitation of natural resources and establish a win-win situation in which African countries will earn their deserved share of the wealth inherent in their natural resources;

• formulation of Africa’s common Master plan of integrated foundation of infrastructure such as transport, power generation and transmission and water supply which are required to enable the continent realize its natural competitiveness in the global  manufacturing;

• identification of manufacturing priorities in fisheries, agriculture, forestry and mineral resources and formulation and promotion of a common Master Plan of priority manufacturing potentials for global investing;

• formulation of the African common policies and legislations required to ensure individual African countries earn their deserved share of the wealth inherent in their natural resources like nonrenewable mineral resources, encourage joint venture partnerships among the Public and Private sectors of individual African countries in the development  of the All Africa common Master plans of integrated foundation of infrastructures and priority manufacturing potentials anywhere on the Continent and discourage exportation of raw materials in favour of importation of Global investing in manufacturing and/or factories dismantling there for installation in Africa;

• formulation of guidelines for encouraging and enabling individual African countries to invest revenues earned from exploitation of their natural resources in the development of Africa’s common Master plans of integrated infrastructure and priority manufacturing potentials, on condition that new developments and their capacities do not compromise the market shares of developments already on the ground and cause underutilization of costly African infrastructures and manufacturing facilities when the new developments are needed somewhere else on the continent;

• establishment and adoption of All Africa common measures against corrupt practices in the doing of business on the Continent;

•enabling African countries to invest in the development of economic growth potentials anywhere on the continent and secure their deserved share of global investing for manufacturing and benefit from the modern technologies and job opportunities inherent in global investing for manufacturing.

Collaboration among African Countries is therefore required to enable harmonization and optimization of their development policies, legislations and programs in ensuring they earn their deserved share of the wealth generated from their natural resources. The gains can in turn be invested in  the development of the infrastructural foundations required to enable the Continent attract its deserved share of Global investment in manufacturing, and the modern technologies it’s associated with.

By Antipas Massawe/;


John Mashaka

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