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Africa’s Must-Do Decade

In recent decades, some developing countries – mainly in Asia – have managed to industrialize. For African countries to achieve sustainable development, they, too, will have to increase substantially the share of industry – especially manufacturing – in their national investment, output, and trade.

VIENNA – Since 2000, Africa has recorded impressive rates of economic growth, owing largely to development assistance and a prolonged commodity boom. While the continent shows great diversity in the socioeconomic trajectories, growth rates have generally masked an underlying lack of structural transformation.

Many African countries have yet to undergo the kind of transformation that is necessary for socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable development over the long term: namely, industrialization. Wherever industrialization has occurred, it has reliably improved economic diversification and helped to nurture, strengthen, and uphold the conditions for competitive growth and development.

In recent decades, some developing countries – mainly in Asia – have managed to industrialize. But, despite repeated attempts, African countries have not. In 2014, the Asia and Pacific region’s share of value added in global manufacturing was 44.6%, whereas Africa’s was just 1.6%. With South Africa as its only industrialized country, Sub-Saharan Africa is the least industrialized region in the world.

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