Africa Progress: Regional Approach a Must

Africa has the greatest manufacturing, and growth potential among the countries sharing the Indian, Atlantic, and Mediterranean Oceans and their coastlines in North and South America, Middle East and Asia.
If their exploitation is well organised and managed, the continent could become a global manufacturing hub.
Africa is strategically located on the interface of the world’s leading marine trade exchange between markets within and around the Atlantic, Indian and Mediterranean Oceans.
Africa’s climate, abundance of mineral resources, fertile land, and freshwater bodies places it on a higher position to lead the world as the next manufacturing hub of the world.
With its population of one billion people, growth rate of three percent and the expanding middle class, Africa is becoming a big market within itself.
Despite being blessed with what is required to become a global player in manufacturing and processing, Africa is still one of the least industrialised continents, a net exporter of cheap raw materials and an importer of costly manufactured goods.
Africa’s present share of global manufacturing is a paltry one percent, and this is shrinking, as it is labor intensive, has limited financing, and experiences unreliable and costly power supply and transportation of raw materials.
This makes the sector uncompetitive compared to highly efficient and cost effective modern technologies in advanced nations where financing, reliable energy and huge markets are available.
Africa has also failed to secure its deserved share of global manufacturing revenue because instead of bargaining as a bloc, individual countries go it alone in exploitation of natural resources.
This unco-ordinated and solo move coupled with small domestic markets does not accord significant revenues to respective countries.
Policies and legislations governing investing in infrastructure development, manufacturing and exploitation of natural resources in African countries are not harmonised.
Consequently, as the African countries compete among themselves for FDI, they cannot dictate their own terms for win-win relationships.
This curtails optimal development of manufacturing potential and markets throughout the African continent.
Having all African manufacturing and marketing potentials well covered with reliable and cost effective networks of materials, transport and power is essential to minimising the cost of manufacturing in Africa, smoothening the movement of materials among its fast growing population of more than 1 billion, and realising natural competitiveness for global investment in manufacturing.
Lack of foundational infrastructure required for the African continent to realise its natural competitiveness in the global manufacturing has forced some African countries to remain net exporters of unprocessed raw materials, and importers of costly manufactured goods.
This is economically unproductive because earnings are a fraction of the natural wealth inherent in its exports of unprocessed raw materials.
Nonetheless, as it imports costly manufactured goods, the continent continues to plunge deep into poverty due to the expanding balance of payment in respective countries.
As a net exporter of raw materials and huge importer of manufactured goods, the continent slides backwards in manufacturing technology, hence becoming unproductive and poorer.
On the other hand, the energy shortage caused by poor hydropower generation in places like Grand Inga and the Stigler’s Dam in Congo and Tanzania respectively leads to wastage of  development potential.
African governments ought to review and harmonize their individual development policies, legislations and programmes with a view of efficiently exploiting the wealth inherent in natural resources (like nonrenewable mineral resources and power generation potential) within individual African countries.
Africa should engage the power of collective responsibility to craft an African agenda that will free the continent from chronic dependence on developed nations for aid, which discourages collaboration among African countries in favour of collaboration with the developed donor nations in the management and exploitation of their natural resources.
Chronic dependence on aid is one of the main causes behind the negligible African contribution of the scientific and technological advances governing competitiveness in all modern processes of global wealth creation.

African objectives should include:

·       enabling African countries to formulate and dictate common terms in their collaboration with non-African countries in the management and exploitation of natural resources, and establishing a win-win situation in which African countries will earn their deserved share of the wealth inherent in their natural resources;

·       formulation of Africa’s common master plan for an integrated foundation for infrastructure such as transport, power generation and transmission, and water supply;

·       identification of manufacturing priorities in fisheries, agriculture, forestry and mineral resources and formulation and promotion of a common master plan of priority manufacturing projects;

·       formulation of the African common policies and legislation to ensure individual African countries earn their deserved share of the wealth inherent in their natural resources, encourage joint venture partnerships between the public and private sectors;

·       formulation of guidelines for encouraging and enabling investment of revenues from exploitation of natural resources into    development of Africa’s common master plan;

·       establishment and adoption of All-Africa common measures against corrupt practices;

·       enabling African countries to invest in the development of economic growth anywhere on the continent.

Collaboration among African countries is therefore required to enable harmonisation and optimisation of their development policies, legislation and programmes to ensure they earn their deserved share of the wealth generated from their natural resources.
The gains can in turn be invested in the development of the infrastructural foundations required to enable the continent to attract investment in manufacturing and modern technologies.
• This article has been excerpted from The African Executive.

June 2013
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