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Structural transformation, economic development and industrialisation in post-Covid-19 Africa

Research report

Written by Dirk Willem te Velde

Hero image description: The port at Tema, Ghana Image credit:World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While Africa’s 'premature deindustrialisation' appears to be the dominant global narrative, recent analysis of the data suggests that deindustrialisation is not the common experience for the majority of African countries. Although industrialisation in Africa has been somewhat disappointing so far, this should not be seen as proof of its declining importance. Instead there should be renewed effort and additional policy focus to promote industrialisation.

This study looks at the challenges facing industrialisation in African countries, in particular the issues for the policy framework needed to support it. It identifies three positive issues that have appeared during the Covid-19 crisis which will be important in economic recovery efforts: (1) repurposing, accelerated pharma production and joint procurement; (2) increased attention to agro-processing; and (3) use of technological advances. Additionally, the study identifies three major areas of focus for Africa’s industrialisation which can be used for Africa to play an increasingly positive role on global industrialisation efforts in the decade ahead: (1) green industrialisation; (2) digitalisation; and (3) regional integration.

Carlos Lopes and Dirk Willem te Velde