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Making Globalization Work for Africa

Making globalization more inclusive will require policies that help African economies to converge with high-income countries. African policymakers should focus on accelerating regional integration, bridging gaps in labor skills and digital infrastructure, and creating a mechanism to own and regulate Africa’s digital data.

WASHINGTON, DC – The current backlash against globalization, most notably from working-class citizens in advanced economies who are worried about stagnant wages and insecure jobs, highlights how the benefits of global economic integration were oversold, and its costs undercounted. But the effects of globalization on Africa and its citizens have received far less attention, even though the continent is projected to account for over 40% of the world’s population by the end of this century.

Making globalization more inclusive will require policies that tackle inequality within advanced economies and boost convergence in living standards between Africa and high-income countries. African policymakers, with support from external partners, can play their part by accelerating regional integration, bridging gaps in labor skills and digital infrastructure, and creating a mechanism to own and regulate Africa’s digital data.

Ever since the first industrial revolution led to a surge in international trade, Africa has remained largely on the sidelines of the global economy. The main beneficiaries of early globalization were today’s advanced economies, where industrial technologies emerged. This, in turn, led to the “great divergence” in income levels between the Global North and South.

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