African Economic Conference 2023 ends with a call to African countries to invest in regional value chains to facilitate industrialization

L-R: Adam Elhiraika, Director, Macroeconomics and Governance Department, ECA; Kevin Urama, Chief Economist and Vice President, AfDB; Matthias Naab, Director, Regional Service Centre, UNDP Regional Office for Africa, at the AEC 2023 closing ceremony.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 8 December 2023 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- The African Economic Conference has ended with a call to African nations to invest in high-added value sectors and develop regional value chains to stimulate industrialization.

The three-day conference, which took place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was organized by the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme. It brought together experts from the private sector, researchers, and young people under the theme “Imperatives for Sustainable Industrial Development in Africa“.

The conference called on African countries to adopt flexible and targeted industrial policies to drive robust and sustainable industrialization on the continent.

“We heard that industrialization is a necessity, not a luxury. Africa needs to develop its regional value chains,” said Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank Group, Prof. Kevin Urama.

“This is not the end, but the beginning. The actions we take, and the advice we give to countries will make it a worthwhile agenda. It will only take us Africans to develop Africa; we can only have partners to support us,” he said.

Urama reaffirmed the African Development Bank’s commitment to implement the next steps to support Africa’s industrialization. He called for further action, including robust partnerships, inclusive policies, and renewed trade strategies to drive sustainable economic growth across the continent.

African economists acknowledge that for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to deliver on its ambitious development promise, countries must harmonize trade policies and invest strategically in industrial development.

The key to success in this economic landscape lies in countries positioning themselves within niche industrial sectors with high added value and creating regional value chains, the conference heard.

“Designing smart regional value chains can maximize Africa’s productive capacity. We need to move from low productivity to high value,” said Matthias Naab, Director of the Regional Service Centre at the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Office for Africa.

The annual conference opened on 16 November with an address by Ethiopia’s president, Sahle-Work Zewde, who stressed the importance of industrialization as a key driver of inclusive economic growth.

Adam Elhiraika, Director, Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa concluded at the closing ceremony: “We had a very fruitful three days together, with interactive discussions and converging views on Africa’s industrialization. Your views will go a long way in shaping African policy-making.”

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of African Development Bank.

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