By 2050 about 580 million young Africans will enter the labour market, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), observed Monday, noting that African people are tired of poverty.
“Africa must stop being a museum of poverty. Its people are determined to reverse this trend. The future of young Africans is not in Europe, their destiny is not to end their lives in the Mediterranean Sea,” he stressed during a lively press conference on Day 1 of the Bank’s 53rd Annual Meetings, taking place from May 21 to 25 in Busan, Korea.
According to Adesina, one of the best ways to lift Africa out of poverty is to accelerate its industrialization.
“Volatile prices for raw materials in recent years have hit many African countries badly. This has convinced us of the urgent need to diversify our economies, especially by processing our raw materials here in Africa,” said the Bank’s President.
He announced that the African Development Bank would invest US $35 billion over the next 10 years to support industrialization in Africa.
“We are convinced that any creation of added value for African economies involves industrialization. In agriculture, for example, we can successfully set up processing zones for agricultural raw materials. For Africa, industrialization is not an option, but an absolute necessity,” argued Adesina.
Three prerequisites for industrialization
He explained that three conditions must come together to enable Africa to embark decisively on the path to industrialization.
“There can be no industrialization without clear, forthright political leadership. There can be no industrialization without strengthening human resources, especially by investing in sciences, new technologies and innovations,” said Adesina.
Calling for all of Africa to be inspired by industrial experiences in other parts of the world, he nevertheless warned against simply copying and pasting.
“All parts of the world have been inspired by models of industrial success elsewhere. From this point of view, Africa can also be inspired by Korean industrial excellence without resorting to lazy attempts to reproduce it,” added the 2017 World Food Prize laureate.
“In Africa, we must not forget to consider the role of local communities in our industrialization policies. This is because the question of skills is important in order to achieve inclusive industrialization. We also need to adopt a healthy, incentive-based business environment.”
About 3,000 attendees are expected in Busan from May 21 to 25 for the African Development Bank’s 53rd Annual Meetings, which will focus on “Accelerating Africa’s Industrialization.”
Although per capita income in Korea is now US $26,000, the economic reality in the country only 50 years ago was the same as in many African nations.
Participants at the Bank’s 53rd Annual Meetings hope that the “Korean model” will provide useful ideas for accelerating Africa’s industrialization.