Africa’s experience with manufacturing has been mixed. Despite bursts of growth in the 1960s and mid-1980s, Africa currently has less formal manufacturing than any region of the world (lower than 10% share of gross domestic product, GDP, in most countries). In the early days of independence, governments across the continent sought to promote manufacturing with large state-owned enterprises, however macroeconomic instability, competition from exports and rising production costs, led to a decline in the manufacturing share of GDP in many countries.
Manufacturing is among eight core issues identified as vital to Africa’s economic transformation during the African Transformation Forum jointly convened by the Government of Rwanda and the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) in March 2016 in Kigali. The main outcome of the forum was the launch of the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation (PACT), a network designed to bring together key stakeholders around shared themes to speed up economic transformation in Africa. PACT identified eight core pathways and drivers to economic transformation.
Manufacturing is also a key element in the African Development Bank’s Hi-Fives (Industrialize Africa) and a priority area in Goal number two of the African Union’s Vision 2063. Africa currently has less formal manufacturing than any region of the world and in order for it to break into the global market; there are a number of interdependent challenges to overcome.
ACET in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Government of Ethiopia organised the manufacturing chapter meeting of PACT. The aim of the manufacturing meeting was to kick start a continuous conversation for African leaders to shape their countries’ industrialisation issues in the context of Africa’s transformation agenda. The main objectives of the meeting was to:
- Develop a shared understanding of the manufacturing landscape in Africa, key challenges and opportunities;
- Explore practical solutions to key issues by learning from country experiences in six countries Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique and Ghana;
- Introduce the vision and objectives for the PACT Manufacturing Chapter, understand country priorities and discuss next steps for chapter membership and engagement.
The meeting brought together about 40 industry experts and senior officials from key government ministries, departments and agencies from selected African countries, development partners, civil society organizations, academia and the media.
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