Africa’s industrialization riddle

How can African economies jump-start their productivity? In this analysis, part of our series covering African trade, we examine the factory floor across the continent and how countries could successfully industrialize.

Manufacturing a path to prosperity

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The way markets have thrived in the past has been through industrialization, which involves developing production processes that create economic value.

Historically, that meant manufacturing. Nearly every successful example of a country getting richer – China, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and Poland – has started with manufacturing. The traditional model has been to shift workers from farms and rural areas to cities where they make labor-intensive goods for export.

The question now is can African nations repeat the trick of their counterparts in Asia and Europe? Some experts are optimistic and say that China, as the biggest foreign player in Africa, will help to finance a “global manufacturing powerhouse”. Others are less optimistic and point to African markets having a hard time getting rich the way other regions have.

We examine the manufacturing landscape across the continent, and how economies could kick-start a revolutionary wave across Africa through smart policy, foreign direct investment as well as leveraging “industries without smokestacks” and better physical and data infrastructure.

Read the reports in this series:
Africa: An immense opportunity for trade
Tackling economic crime across Africa

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