Although African countries enjoyed fast economic growth based on high commodity prices over the past decade, this growth has not translated into the economic transformation the continent needs to eradicate extreme poverty and enjoy economic prosperity. Now, more than ever, the necessity for Africa to industrialize is being stressed at various international forums, ranging from the recent Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (TICAD) to the just-finished G-20 summit, which put industrialization in Africa and least developed countries (LDCs) in its program for the first time. Meanwhile, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) U.N. resolution also mark a transition to a new development paradigm with the recognition that Africa has to restructure and diversify its economies to be on a path of sustained growth.
On September 23, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the African Union Commission (AUC) co-hosted a high-level panel of leading Africa experts to identify the policies, resources, and strategies necessary to translate support from various political, multilateral, and private sector actors of the international community into concrete actions for stimulating sustainable industrialization in Africa. Mr. Li Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization provided a keynote address after which a panel offered their expertise on the key challenges and bottlenecks to African industrialization and propose recommendations on how different partnerships and players can best support the region in its efforts to sustainably industrialize.