South of the Revolution

Do the youth-led revolutions unfolding in northern Africa presage the awakening of economic lions throughout the continent? If so, it means embracing structural change and diversifying Africa’s productive base away from over-dependence on raw materials and mining.

PRETORIA – Over dinner in Algiers recently, we asked each other whether the youth-led revolutions unfolding in northern Africa presage the awakening of economic lions throughout the continent. Could the changes unfolding in the Arab north usher in an Africa-wide industrial revolution?

If so, it would mean shifting from production of commodities to higher-value manufactured products. It would also mean looking objectively at the concept and aims of international development cooperation beyond the lifespan of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Manufacturing is undoubtedly the principal propellant in transforming human and natural resources into economic value – beneficiation, as we call it in southern Africa. It is here that Africa’s natural resources come into play.

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