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Three Myths about Industry in Africa

Laborers work at a railway station construction site in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa

Despite the African Union’s emphasis on promoting African industry since 2008, Africa’s industrial sector has remained stagnant.  In the 1970s, the continent’s average share of manufacturing value added in GDP was only 10 percent, yet by 2010 it had not changed.  But why, despite a major focus on policies to promote industrial growth by African and global policymakers, has African industry simply not grown?

Brookings Africa Growth Initiative Senior Fellow John Page argues that many of the industrial policies implemented in African countries are based on biases about the region. According to John, what many policymakers think they know about Africa’s industries and what makes them grow is, in fact, wrong.  He points to three major misconceptions or myths about African industries:

  1. African firms are not competitive.
  2. Overregulation is holding the sector back.
  3. Small and medium enterprises are the key to industrial growth.

Read the related paper »

Therefore, John urges African policymakers to re-examine current industrial policies that are based on these misconceptions in order to create an economic environment that is conducive to structural transformation and development in Africa. 

Read Foresight Africa 2014, which details the top priorities for Africa in the coming year, to learn more about Africa’s burgeoning industries as well as other critical issues for the region.

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