Africa’s top civil servants benefit from an IDEP course on industrial policy

The African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) recently hosted senior civil servants from 20 African countries for a course on Industrial Policy in Africa aimed at strengthening their capacity in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating appropriate strategies to facilitate the structural transformation of the continent’s economies.

The course included the need to green Africa’s industrialization as a way of achieving sustainable and inclusive growth as one of its core topics. Participants applauded IDEP for offering such a course but agreed greening the continent’s industrialization process was still a major challenge.

In her welcome remarks to participants, IDEP Director, Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, said more needs to be done to empower senior civil servants working on policies that impact Africa’s socio-economic development.

Industrial policies, she said, should not only consider local issues but also regional value chains and cross-border cooperation, among others.

She spoke about the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) which is expected to be in place by October 2017, bringing together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion.

With the CFTA, African leaders aim to, among other things, create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade. The CFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels.

Our philosophy of development should be revamped as we yearn for competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels,rdquo; said Ms. Soltane, adding the diversity of participants attending the course had enriched discussions on Africa’s industrial policies.

Course Director, Mr. Babatunde, said following the structural adjustment era of the 1980s, no industrial strategy had been concretely put in place on the continent.

It is high time that we as a continent start to build a new generation of leaders to deal with these issues efficiently if we are to structurally transform our economies,rdquo; said Mr. Babatunde.

No-one will come from outside to do this for us. Africa needs to industrialize and so we should step up to the plate and take the reins.rdquo;

He said Africa should invest in more efficient private and public sector initiatives and come-up with sound industrial policies, adding there was also an urgent need to boost domestic resource mobilization within member States.

Mr. Babatunde added industrialization, let along green industry, remained a challenge for the African continent.

Participants looked at many issues, including global competitiveness as well as Africa’s position in the world and its 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063.

They also undertook a field trip to the Senegalese Industrial Paper Plant (SIPS) as they discussed the continent’s industry and constraints it faces in trying to deal with its developmental challenges.

The 20 participants, including eight women, came from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cote d#39;Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe. Two participants from the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) also attended.

IDEP, whose mandate is to assist member States build their human resource capacities as a necessary prerequisite for and promoting socio-economic development, offers training year-in year-out, particularly in economic management and planning fields working closely with the ministries of finance, economic development and planning, among others.

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).