A three-day conference aimed at highlighting the industrial continental free trade agreement among member states to boost regional economic transformation and sustainable development in Africa has ended in Accra.
The occasion which coincided with the Africa Industrialisation Day, celebrated every November 20, also stimulated debates on the impacts of industrialisation on the global and African environment.
It also raised awareness in the international community on the opportunities and challenges for Africa's industrialisation within the framework of newly created African Continental Free Trade Area, and drew participants from civil society, academia, trade unions, environmental-based organisations, government officials, experts and economists across six regions in Africa, including, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.
The event was put together by the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), the Trades Union Congress and the Friedrich Ebert Drifting (FES).
In an interview, Dr Madina Guloba from the University of Uganda said industrialisation enhanced productivity, increased the capabilities of the workforce and generated employment by introducing new equipment and new techniques.
She said industrialisation with strong linkages to domestic economies would help African countries to achieve high growth rates, diversify their economies and reduce their exposure to external shocks, which would substantially contribute to poverty eradication through employment and wealth creation.
Dr Guloba indicated that the success of Africa's industrialisation required the creation of enabling environment by the states, which would enhance domestic capacity in respect to physical and social infrastructure, human capital, financial systems, research and development.
However, she was quick to say that countries in Africa had declined in the manufacturing sector, and feared a growing population of more educated and urbanised youth struggling for few existing jobs comes 2050.
According to her, the global economy was fast changing and required that African economies were transformed to be relevant in the global value and wealth chains, adding that "attempts by African governments to industrialise their respective countries are acknowledgeable, but the reality is that these attempts cannot industrialise African economies as envisaged."
Dr Galuba added that the sound macroeconomic performance of African economies, real structural transformation and decent jobs had been realised, "but has not been translated into development and poverty alleviation indicating that our policies have failed to support and transform the economies as expected unlike the Asian tigers such as China, Malaysia and Singapore."
She advocated the urgent need for review of existing tarriff and tax systems that would favour the development and growth of local industries in Africa, stressing that most laws and policies were scattered and conflicting, hence the need to harmonise laws and policies to promote economic transformation and a just transition in African economies.