Workers at Kinross Clothing manufacturers in Maitland RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images

A Roadmap for African Industrialization

Although Africa has recorded strong economic growth in recent years, and will continue to do so this year, its gains will remain fleeting until it undergoes a long-awaited transition away from commodity exports and toward manufacturing. That, in turn, will require leaders who are willing to put the economy before narrow political considerations.

ABIDJAN – Africa is at a crossroads. Six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are now located in the region, and the continent’s GDP is expected to grow at a rate of 4.1% this year, up from 3.6% in 2017.

Yet Africa’s economic growth has not been accompanied by a commensurate level of job creation, which has particularly negative implications for women and young people. In fact, today’s jobless growth could even reverse the gains made in eradicating poverty in recent years.

The problem is that Africa’s growth, while impressive, has been volatile, because it has been driven mainly by high commodity prices, rather than by manufacturing. The economic effects of this imbalance should not be underestimated. Among other things, it explains why a region that produces about 75% of the world’s cocoa accounts for just 5% of the nearly $100 billion annual chocolate market.

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