Africa’s Industrial Manifesto

DSC_0596

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 20th, is Africa Industrialization Day (AID) as declared annually by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). It’s a day dedicated to raising necessary awareness about Industrialization and beneficiation in Africa.

Industry is a key driver of sustainable jobs and development for national economies and the foundation of good living standards.  It does not matter whether it is first industrial revolution, (Industry 1.0), Second Industrial Revolution (2.0), Third Industrial Revolution (Industry 3.0) or the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), Africans must make what we wear (gold, rings and necklaces, clothes and textile), what we ride, (automobiles), what fuel our cars (petroleum products) what we build with (iron and steel), soaps we bath with (chemicals and allied products) and generate energy we consume. Africa must stop exporting raw cottons, crude oil, mineral resources, gold and diamond only to be importing finished goods from China, Europe and America. With large small or medium scale enterprises, Africa must consume products it produces not imported or smuggled as it is the case in Nigeria. UNIDO had over the years shown that manufacturing industry in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) lags behind other developing regions of the world. There are three leading economies in Africa namely Nigeria which worth some $406 billion, Egypt $332.3 billion and South Africa $294.1billion. However in terms of manufacturing value added South Africa at 25 per cent is the highest, followed by Egypt at 20 per cent and Nigeria with less than 5 per cent. Ghana is even more industrialized at 6 per cent manufacturing value added (MVA). In 2015 Africa had as many as 1.2 billion population.  Millions of youths join the labour market annually without jobs making them voluntary slaves to Europe and America after three hundreds Africa put an end to forced slavery. Only industry and manufacturing can provide sustainable mass jobs and living wages as well as necessary revenues for government to provide the needed infrastructure for development.

In order for Africa to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 2030, especially SDG 9 dealing with industry and innovation, Africa continent must innovate and  industrialize.  Africa must copy China’s industrialization drive which has within 20 years moved over 250 million people out of poverty through manufacturing and industrialization. Africa must make what it consumes, otherwise it will be consumed by the rest of the world. Many African countries commendably have put in place robust documents and policies on industrialization and diversification. But capacity utilization is still very low with few existing industries closing down with mass job losses. It’s time Africa /worked the policies and adds value to the continent abundant raw materials. Buhari administration commendably launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. Together with the existing National Industrial Revolution Plan, the Plan can promote revival of industries and creation of mass decent jobs. We must also note a number of commendable initiatives by African governments in promoting wealth generation and reviving the industry, such as Buy-Africa campaign in South Africa and Buy Made-in-Nigeria campaign. Buhari administration had signed some unprecedented Executive Orders mandating Government agencies to spend more of their budgets on locally produced goods and services. These orders would help in the recovery of many factories in Nigeria.

But there can be no industrialization without electrification. We must therefore urge all African governments to massively invest in energy mix of hydro, solar and nuclear to drive Industrialization. Africa must also develop a Sustainable Industrial Policy with respect to artificial intelligence, Digitalization within the context of the so called Industry 4.0. All industrial transformations must promote the much needed social justice in the world of work including a just transition for affected workers in terms of training and retraining.

Sustainable industrial policy must be based on an assessment of how to steer towards a destination all Africans desire rather than a destination that is favourable to only a few investors. The benefits of industrialization should not be privatized while the costs to be socialized. The benefits of digitalization and advanced technologies should be to all; employers and governments, and workers, and to society at large. We must make technology work for us and not simply allow Industry 4.0 to define a new wave of intensified work and more precarious work.

Whatever forms of industrialization, first or fourth industrial revolution there must be decent sustainable jobs for the workers with job security, living wages and living pensions. Businesses and owners of capital are employing robots, Machines and computers to replace workers in order to maximize profits and lower wages or even deny pay all together. Yes, technology makes work easier, but they also could lead to job losses. There must therefore be a just transition to 4th industrial revolution. There should be education and re-training for the workers. Employers and governments should not criminalize skill gabs as a result of digitalizations of production. The Fourth Industrial Revolution calls for the need to develop skills and know-how by workers to work with digital technologies, because they will be increasingly present in our life and work.

By Issa Aremu, mni     Nov 19, 2018

Filed in: Articles, Latest News, News and Events, Publications

You might like:

AREMU CONGRATULATES ABDULRAHMAN ABDULRAZAQ, SAYS ALL KWARANS ARE WINNERS, URGES MORE WOMEN AND YOUTHS PARTICIPATION IN THE NEW DISPENSATION AREMU CONGRATULATES ABDULRAHMAN ABDULRAZAQ, SAYS ALL KWARANS ARE WINNERS, URGES MORE WOMEN AND YOUTHS PARTICIPATION IN THE NEW DISPENSATION
AREMU Salutes Nigerian workers at NLC 12th Congress AREMU Salutes Nigerian workers at NLC 12th Congress
Nigeria Labour Congress 12th Delegates Conference In Pictures Nigeria Labour Congress 12th Delegates Conference In Pictures
New Minimum Wage: Bismarck Rewane-led Technical Advisory Committee Should facilitate  Implementation faster. – Issa Aremu New Minimum Wage: Bismarck Rewane-led Technical Advisory Committee Should facilitate Implementation faster. – Issa Aremu