Figure of the week: Manufacturing value added in sub-Saharan Africa

Last week, the World Bank released its 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is an interactive data visualization meant to demonstrate and guide the reader through the progress of countries toward the SDG targets.

Goal 9 of the SDGs, “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation,” is particularly important for sub-Saharan Africa as its intense economic growth over the past decade has slowed. Historically, industry and manufacturing have been pathways to economic development in several regions of the world, but, in sub-Saharan Africa, industry’s share of GDP has, on average, been declining. However, the 2017 Atlas finds significant variation among sub-Saharan African countries in terms of manufacturing value added (MVA) per capita, which measures the relative value of net manufacturing output to the population size, and MVA’s share in GDP, which measures the role of manufacturing in the economy (Figure 1).

Though the majority of sub-Saharan African countries have an MVA per capita below $200, indicating relatively low manufacturing output per person, several countries such as Nigeria, Namibia, Seychelles, Botswana, and Gabon boast MVA per capita higher than $200 though their shares of MVA as a percent of GDP are less than 11 percent, the regional average in 2015. At the same time, countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Benin, Senegal, Zimbabwe, and Kenya maintain a higher MVA as a share of their GDP than the regional average, but a relatively low MVA per capita.

Figure 1: Manufacturing value added varies considerably in sub-Saharan Africa (manufacturing value added, most recent value available for 2014–15)