The opening of a new assembly plant by Japanese motor company Yamaha and French company CFAO in Lagos, has received acclamation in Nigeria. The country which imports over a million new bikes annually represents half of the West African market and is cited to have potential for growth. This happens in the wake of calls for an industrialized Africa.
While win-win economic partnerships are healthy, Africa must invest in growing its own productivity character that will lead to industrialization. There is a difference between market seeking industries and intrinsic industrialization.
Intrinsic industrialization requires deliberate and proactive steps to put the African at the center of problem solving. It entails shunning to externalize Africa’s challenges. Collaboration with successful industrialized centers has to be about borrowing tools to enable Africans fix their problems but not about transfer of industrial units. To transfer whole industrial units to Africa without growing an African industrial character will still relegate the continent to playing catch-up.