The African Development Bank (AfDB) has released the 2018 African Economic Outlook report, which makes a compelling case for accelerating Africa’s industrialization in order to create jobs, reduce poverty and promote inclusive economic growth. This year’s report focuses on macroeconomic development and structural changes in Africa, and outlines economic prospects for 2018. It emphasizes the need to develop Africa’s infrastructure, and recommends new strategies and innovative financing instruments for countries to consider, depending on levels of development and specific circumstances.

Africas industrialization key to growthAkinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB, says that infrastructure projects are among the most profitable investments any society can make as they “significantly contribute to, propel, and sustain a country’s economic growth”. “Infrastructure, when well managed, provides the financial resources to do everything else,” he said at the launch of the report.

Noting that economic diversification is key to resolving many of the continent’s difficulties, he urged African governments to encourage a shift toward labour-intensive industries, especially in rural areas where 70% of the continent’s population resides. “Agriculture must be at the forefront of Africa’s industrialization. Integrated power and adequate transport infrastructure would facilitate economic integration, support agricultural value chain development and the economies of scale which drive industrialization.”

According to Adesina, the win-win situation that Africa’s industrialization can generate within the developed world is relatively unknown. Citing data from the report, he said that increasing the share of manufacturing in GDP in Africa (and other developing countries) could boost investment in the G20 by about $485 billion and household consumption by about US $1.4 trillion.

New infrastructure financing gap estimates and innovative ways through which African countries can raise funds for infrastructure development are featured in the report, and will be examined further during the Africa Investment Forum, to be held on 7-8 November 2018 in Johannesburg. The Forum is being organised by the AfDB to mobilise funds for infrastructure development in order to bridge an estimated funding gap of $130-$170 billion a year.

The full report is available in English, French and Portuguese at www.AfDB.org/aeo.

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