The Future of Manufacturing in Africa

Fostering industrialisation remains a key priority for African policymakers

Growing the manufacturing sector is often considered a cardinal element to realising inclusive and sustained development. Among the multiple benefits of manufacturing, is the industry’s aptitude to create employment for a vast number of low-skilled workers, which is essential for reducing poverty.

Until the 2000s, Sub-Saharan Africa had been de-industrialising. However, according to a study conducted by the Industrial Analytics Platform, this trend has recently begun to reverse across the region. This was documented in an investigation of national data from 51 countries, including 18 in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, and Mauritius. These 18 countries account for nearly three-quarters of the region’s GDP and are therefore representative of the general context. Analysis revealed that the average percentage of manufacturing employment in the African countries remained stagnant at 7.2 per cent between 1990 and 2010 but had increased to 8.3 per cent by 2018.

Further, on average, Sub-Saharan Africa was found to have achieved considerably higher shares of manufacturing employment in the 2010s than comparable countries in the 1990s. The study further demonstrated the country-specific trends in manufacturing employment for all 51 countries since the 1990s. Sub-Saharan countries behind the manufacturing renaissance were subsequently identified: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Senegal.

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