Published in May 2017

Implementing industrialisation strategies in Africa

African countries face difficult challenges in breaking into world manufacturing markets, new developments work in their favour. These include rising wages in China and a rebalancing in Asia away from export-led towards domestic and regional consumption-led growth; Africa’s growing regional markets; falling transport costs; greater access to abundant natural resources; improved firm productivity and access to global value chains; and better general economic policy environments.

But governments should not stand aloof; to seize these new opportunities they will have to formulate and implement coherent industrial development strategies. The key elements of such strategies must include:

  • continued improvements in the basics, including sound macroeconomic management, stronger general investment climate and support for the private sector and development of public infrastructure and relevant skills
  • an export push, including regional trade and integration
  • agglomeration through building and running efficient special economic zones (SEZs) and industrial parks
  • active foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion and building linkages with local firms
  • supporting productivity enhancement of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their access to technology and long-term finance to help them venture into production of new or technologically more sophisticated products
  • improved coherence and implementation coordination within government and
  • strengthened consultation and collaboration between government and the private sector


By Dirk Willem te Velde, Director of Supporting Economic Transformation Programme and Head of International Economic Development Group, ODI