Africa’s experience with industrialization over the past forty years has been disappointing. In 2010 sub-Saharan Africa’s average share of manufacturing value added in GDP was 10 percent, unchanged from the 1970s. The nine country case studies in this paper series – seven from sub-Saharan Africa, one from North Africa and two from newly industrializing East Asia – offer some insights into why it has been so difficult to bring industry to Africa.
These country studies point toward some important differences in the policy and institutional approaches taken by governments to promote industrial development. Broadly speaking, Cambodia, Tunisia and Vietnam moved in one direction – toward foreign direct investment and exports—and the eight Sub-Saharan African countries in another. The outcomes of these choices and the constraints outlined in each paper help to explain why there is so little industry in Africa.