Speaking during the Extraordinary session of the AU Assembly in Niamey, Niger, devoted to Industrialisation and Economic Diversification and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Faki said that the gateway to industrialisation opens onto Agriculture, for which Africa has enormous potential.
During the meeting “Industrialising Africa: a Renewed commitment to Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialisation and Economic Diversification” Faki said past industrialisation policies, developed over decades and adopted by the Policy organs of the African Union, have not always produced significant results.
“While undeniable significant progress has been observed in some Member States, 3 in others the industrial sector has stagnated if not regressed.
It represents, on average, only less than 15% in the Gross Domestic Product,” he said in his speech
“Moreover, the exported products have only a very low technological content. These underperformances challenge us doubly, as Member States and as a Continental Organisation.”
He added: “The forward-looking eye that we are about to cast on the process of industrialisation of our Continent should, therefore, be nurtured, on the one hand, by questioning the past, on the identification of the factors that have weighed down Africa in its march towards industrialisation and on the other hand, on the major trends, the ruptures and the seeds of change, which are in the process of shaping the future of the world economy.”
He said that the prospective scenarios of the world economy will be influenced by the population growth currently estimated at 8 billion inhabitants, the acceleration of the technological changes in progress, the pressure of Climate Change, the securing of access to sources energy, the risks linked to the globalisation of finance, the heightening of security tensions due to the disastrous consequences of Terrorism and challenges to food security, the deterioration of climatic conditions and so on.
It is within this framework that we should, today, rethink the industrialisation model of Africa.
“The decisive challenge, in the choice to industrialise, lies in the objective consideration of all of our potentialities and in the relevance of the arbitrations between a plurality of schemes.”
According to Faki, the transformation of the Agricultural sector, through the Malabo Declaration, should make it possible to increase productivity, which would result in the reduction of imports of food products, estimated at 15 billion Dollars per year and would free up human and financial resources for development. of the industry.
Energy, an important variable in any industrial activity, acting both as a production and competitiveness factor, determines, depending on the level of its availability, the choice to be made for industrialisation.
In Africa, he said, investment in energy could operate as a vector of Regional integration and promotion of industry when we know that energy consumption remains very low on the Continent.
“More than 600 million Africans have never known electricity! Certainly, our industrialisation efforts will focus primarily on the processing of our natural resources.
This understandable option will, however, be forced to build a bridge towards the dazzling advances of the 4th Industrial revolution, which mobilises advanced technologies, based on the various components of artificial intelligence.”
He said that beyond the sectoral priorities to be determined, according to the specificities and potentialities of each country, the industrialisation process would benefit by being considered within a logic of complementary and horizontal diversification between the Member States.
“The translation of these choices into reality is subordinated to a positive interaction between the dynamics of the internal reforms already initiated and the external dynamics. Internally, industrialisation, associated with economic diversification, will upset all public policies to reconfigure them, in accordance with its own requirements, whether in terms of education and training policies, the business climate, standards and compliance, investment, competition, intellectual property and so on.”
“These adjustments, to be made internally, are compounded by the effects, not always happy, of external dynamics. The latter remains decisive for the industrialisation of African countries.”
The AU boss said it makes it possible to achieve the necessary economies of scale to improve production and exports, attract external financing to compensate for the shortage of domestic savings, integrate into global value chains, strengthen demand for technology transfer, develop Intra-African trade, through the various levers offered by the AfCFTA, whose progress I welcome. The Report of President Issoufou and that of the Extraordinary session of the Council of African Ministers of Trade, will shed more light on this.
“ Beyond all these known dimensions that I have just recalled, I retain that industrialisation, economic diversification, and the AfCFTA are certainly decisive. However, it remains firmly established that the huge difficulties to be ironed out, both at the level of basic infrastructure and at the legal and technical levels, will never be overcome without strong political will.”
He concluded that this condition has only one name: our unity and the strength of our transformative determination. It is up to Africa to arm itself with this will. The day it does it, industrialisation and the AfCFTA will have become these two builders of the Africa we want: an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.