The African Economic Conference 2023, held as a hybrid event with in-person participation at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from November 16 to 18, brought together experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to explore strategies for accelerating Africa’s industrialization and economic transformation. The conference, themed “Imperatives for Sustainable Industrial Development in Africa,” focused on identifying key challenges and opportunities for fostering sustainable industrial growth on the continent.
A central message emerging from the conference was the urgent need for stronger political will to drive Africa’s industrialization agenda. Participants emphasized the importance of adopting bold policy measures to promote domestic industrial development, enhance productivity and competitiveness, and harness the potential of Africa’s growing youth population. African countries were urged to implement strategic industrial policies that prioritize local production and consumption of goods and services. This approach, often referred to as “thinking African, producing African, and consuming African,” aims to stimulate domestic manufacturing capacity and reduce reliance on imported products.
The development of strong domestic and regional value chains was identified as a critical driver of industrialization. By fostering linkages between African businesses and promoting intra-African trade, countries can create a more resilient and integrated industrial ecosystem, reducing their vulnerability to external shocks. Africa’s abundant natural resources and its vibrant youth population were recognized as key assets for industrial development. Participants called for concerted efforts to leverage these resources effectively, invest in skills development and entrepreneurship, and create an enabling environment for young innovators to thrive.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) were highlighted as crucial instruments for mobilizing investments and expertise in infrastructure development, manufacturing, and other sectors essential for industrialization. The successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was also emphasized, with its potential to create a single market of over 1.3 billion people and boost regional trade and industrial growth. The conference underscored the importance of pursuing a sustainable and inclusive approach to industrialization. This entails adopting environmentally friendly technologies, ensuring equitable distribution of benefits, and empowering marginalized groups to participate fully in the industrialization process.
The African Economic Conference 2023 provided a valuable platform for exchanging knowledge, sharing experiences, and forging partnerships to advance Africa’s industrialization agenda. The conference’s recommendations, if implemented effectively, have the potential to propel Africa onto a trajectory of sustained economic growth and shared prosperity. Lostisland was represented at the conference by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iliyan Kostov, and the Honorary Consulate in Nigeria.