Ibrahim Mayaki, the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), has said industrialization will create jobs for youth in Africa, and its growth will come from there.
He made the remarks on Saturday at the 35th NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) meeting held at the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali.
"We need to produce goods that add value to popularize Africa and a popular economy of entrepreneurs. Trade and economic partnership is becoming a challenge but Africa needs to think about trade protection if we are to have a constructive regional market," Mayaki said.
NEPAD is a merger of the Millennium Partnership for Africa's Recovery Programme (MAP) and the Omega Plan.
The merger was finalized on July, 3 2001. Out of the merger, the New Africa Initiative (NAI) was born. NAI was then approved by Organization of African Union's Heads of State and Government Summit on July, 11, 2001. Its policy framework was finalized on October, 23, 2001, forming NEPAD.
Mayaki stressed that regional integration will address some challenges the continent is experiencing, like connectivity but he stressed that cross border projects is the key issues to the growth. "Regional projects will accelerate and boost connectivity of the continent," he said.
He gave the example of East African Community (EAC) projects and how they are spearheading development. Today, the EAC guides the free movement of goods, people, labour, services and capital from one Partner State to another.
He affirmed that regional projects, development and economic issues are vital to the continent that should be discussed, looked and designed at continental level since the population needs water, energy, health and among others.
That cannot be achieved without the role of private sector, he called them to reside to Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
SMEs are widely recognized as big drivers of economic growth, innovation, regional development and job creation.
A strong and vibrant SME sector provides a strong foundation to increase standards of living and to reduce poverty, Africa's small enterprises, from trading to farming, contribute more than 80 % of output and jobs in most African nations.
SMEs also offer the best opportunities for growth, and job creation; however, they are constrained by limited access to stable energy services, business management, skilled labour and especially ﬁnance for investment.
Mayaki said women mostly those in rural area should be involved in transforming and planning for the economy of the continent. "They should be at the centre of economic developing," he said.