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Africa is de-industrializing and this is dangerous to its economy – Think Tanks

Côte d'Ivoire
06 Apr, 2017

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 6 April 2017 (ACBF) - A deep understanding of Africa’s geopolitical space, a change in mind-set as well as clarity of leadership vision are three key ingredients to reinvigorate Africa’s diminishing industrialization rate, concurred experts meeting in a preparatory session of the fourth Africa Think Tank Summit in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The Summit has been convened by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) in collaboration with the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, the Ivorian Think Tank – CAPEC and other continent partners.

In a keynote presentation made to the experts, Afreximbank’s Chief Economist – Dr Hippolyte Fofack said “Africa must choose to do the right thing by taking advantage of the experience of exemplary developed countries that industrialized long ago, while taking into account the continent’s own geopolitical contexts”.

The volatility of growth and excessive dependence on aid by some countries of the continent, he said have not augured well for Africa in terms of its drive toward industrialisation, he said. That is a good reason for African States to play a key role in setting up profitable industrial sectors by first understanding the continent’s own geopolitical and economic space to allow for the broadening of States’ fiscal spaces and to boost well structured regional value chains.

ACBF’s Director of Knowledge and Learning – Dr Thomas Munthali could not agree less.  Taking the reflections further, he said, “We have to make every effort to finance our development in Africa and industrialization should be a key area of focus.”

“If Africa industrializes the right way, especially by focusing on labour-intensive resource-based industries, it would have found a solution to youth unemployment,” he intimated while saying think tanks need growing partnerships to develop sustainable capacities whie bringing these messages to governments on the continent.

Several other points came out of the intense plenaries including the need to shape policies and build capacity for modernizing agriculture in Africa to make sure industrialization benefits the continent’s mainly agricultural population and the crucial role of think tanks in handling long tern strategic and development issues to help Governments that are already under the weight of  much political pressure.

In the view of Dr Peter da Costa – development specialist and Senior Adviser to the Africa Progress Panel, “knowledge should be recognized as an asset of high value, with budgetary support from governments and the private sector” to support policy mixes especially in the crucial area of industrialization.  He said Think Tanks would make even greater contributions to African countries if governments opened up the data space especially on the specific economy-related information depository that telephony companies keep.

“We cannot rest in making the case about the centrality of industrialization for Africa’s renaissance and the ideas must now start coming from Africa itself, rather than from outside” Prof Adebayo Olukoshi of International Idea, mooted, adding that “it is up to us the Think Tanks to be able to get Africa into an ultra radical shift to break out of the frameworks that have not worked.”

The Head of Cote d’Ivoire’s Economic Policy Analyis Unit of CIRES (CAPEC), that is collaborating with ACBF to host the Summit – Prof Alban Ahoure –  who welcomed participants to the session, praised ACBF for its commitment in raising spearheading smart policies for capacity development in Africa and that his organisation will keep building on its relationship with ACBF to help stir capcity policies and their implementation in his country.

Today’s plenary reflections have paved the way for the official opening of the 4th Africa Think Tank Summit at Abidjan’s Hotel Azalai on Friday 7 April 2017. Côte d’Ivoire’s Minster of Oil and Energy H.E. Mr Thierry Tanoh is expected to open the Summit.



For more information, please contact:

Abel Akara Ticha – Senior Communication Officer
The African Capacity Building Foundation
Harare, Zimbabwe
+263 7+263-4 304663, 304622, 332002, 332014; Ext. 279

About the African Capacity Building Foundation

Established in 1991, ACBF builds human and institutional capacity for good governance and economic development in Africa. To date the Foundation has empowered people in governments, parliaments, civil society, private sector and higher education institutions in more than 45 countries and 6 regional economic communities. ACBF supports capacity development across Africa through mobilization and leveraging of resources for capacity development; grants, investments and fund management; knowledge services; promoting innovation in capacity development and capacity development advisory services. The establishment of ACBF was in response to the severity of Africa’s capacity needs, and the challenges of investing in indigenous human capital and institutions in Africa. ACBF interventions are premised on four principles: the centrality of capacity to the development process in Africa; the critical role of a partnership and demand-driven approach in tackling capacity challenges; African ownership and leadership in the capacity development process; and a systematic, sequenced and coordinated approach to the capacity development process that pays attention to capacity retention and utilization. For further information go to:

ACBF's financial support to our institution has helped us a great deal. We look forward to continued partnership with ACBF in pursuit of capacity building in STEM for Africa's sustainable development.

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