AEC calls for stronger political will to spur Africa’s industrialisation

African Economic Conference (AEC) the ongoing Africa’s flagship economic conference in Addis Ababa, running until Saturday, there’s a strong call for African nations to bolster their commitment to driving industrialization across the continent. Focused on the theme “Imperatives for Sustainable Industrial Development in Africa,” the 2023 African Economic Conference urges countries to implement new policies that enhance productivity and leverage the potential of a burgeoning youth demographic.

During the conference’s inaugural session, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde emphasized the pivotal role of industrialization in fostering inclusive economic growth. She underscored the urgency for African nations to reshape the narrative around industrialization, stressing the necessity to build resilient industrial sectors capable of weathering external challenges.

Africa boasts some of the globe’s fastest-growing economies and possesses a rich human capital base, making it an enticing labour market of the future, as highlighted in a statement from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) released on Thursday. However, despite these strengths, Africa’s pace of industrialization and economic transformation lags behind other regions, noted the UNECA.

Claver Gatete, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UNECA urged conference attendees to explore policies and strengthen institutional capacities essential for sustainable industrialization, inclusive development, and structural transformation. He emphasized the critical role of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in propelling Africa’s progress, especially in recovery from crises.

Gatete affirmed the UNECA’s dedication to assisting countries and regional economic communities in formulating national and regional strategies to integrate the AfCFTA agreement into their priorities, identifying areas of competitive advantage.

The 18th edition of this annual conference, co-hosted by the African Development Bank, UNECA, and the UN Development Programme, brought together a diverse spectrum of experts, private sector representatives, researchers, and youth participants. Their discussions revolved around the challenges and potential prospects associated with industrialization across Africa.

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