The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018, is a single market for goods and services in Africa that aims to unlock manufacturing potential and facilitate industrialisation, driving sustainable growth and jobs among other objectives.
Most recently, a new age of industrialisation has helped push China into one of the world’s fastest growing economies boasting the largest middle class, with other Southeast Asian countries following closely behind. These are all examples of how industrialisation can generate rapid structural change, drive development, and alleviate poverty and unemployment.
Business-to-business spending in manufacturing in Africa is projected to reach $666.3-billion by 2030, $201.28-billion more than that it did in 2015. Irene Yuan Sun, author and consultant, considers Africa to be “the world’s next great manufacturing center”, potentially capturing part of the 100 million labour-intensive manufacturing jobs that will leave China by 2030. This trend creates a huge opportunity for the continent, not only for countries such as South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria (all regional outperformers in the Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index), but also for newer players such as Ethiopia, Morocco, Rwanda, and others (all of whom have recently adopted policies enabling manufacturing and industrial development).
Today, leaders are increasingly realising that manufacturing is a major factor in helping Africa achieve their goals of successfully reaching the next stage of economic development. The African Union has put the sector front and center in its Agenda 2063.*