PRIORITY INDUSTRY SECTOR ON Engineering and Critical Infrastructure
ENGINEERING AND CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Made in China is a stamp that is ubiquitous and can be found on a wide range of objects – anything from T-shirts and shoes, to watches and televisions – worldwide. But it is rare to find an object which has a mark that points to origins in African country – “Made in Nigeria” or “Made in Chad”, for example.
Despite experiencing regional economic growth in recent years, Africa commands a meager 1.5% share of the world’s total manufacturing output, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. We need to transform Africa’s manufacturing into a truly high-tech sector. Africa has been too heavily focused on ‘sub-optimal scale manufacturing’ – the kind that can only exist behind a high tariff wall, and which can only really serve a domestic market. Instead, we need ‘advanced manufacturing’ strategies that AI-Group seeks to expedite in partnership with institutions, which takes raw inputs, combines them with intellectual capability, and adds value to create a functionality the world needs. Advanced manufacturing is the work of next-generation industries, where there is enormous demand and enormous profit to be made.
Priority areas for creating an enabling environment for advanced manufacturing include:
• Energy: Manufacturing requires access to reliable, efficient and cost-effective energy supplies. Many African countries have significantly expanded their energy generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure with a focus on renewable energy sources like geothermal and wind. Continued capacity improvements, enabled by a more aggressive and prioritized infrastructure development strategy, will be critical in meeting the energy needs of an expanded economy.
• Trade: Since manufacturing relies on global markets, access to those markets is an important strategy in the trade architecture on the continent. Trade facilitation is also a major component; this will involve – working with companies to leverage new technology solutions to meet policy goals, anti-corruption efforts and efficient customs processing while promoting access to input materials for further manufacturing, job creation and product development in Africa for Africa. Enabling market access by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers enables countries to benefit from both innovative new products, such as environmental technologies, that can solve local challenges, as well as access to key inputs that can grow necessary markets (for example, chemical products that contribute to more energy-efficient building materials).
• Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): Improving the business environment requires us to build genuine partnerships between the public sector and the private. This idea of public-private partnerships is critical to every other priority mentioned. We should be working with, not against, each other to create a strong, sustainable framework for growth. This is a common thread running through countries that are succeeding in the global economy.• Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): Improving the business environment requires us to build genuine partnerships between the public sector and the private. This idea of public-private partnerships is critical to every other priority mentioned. We should be working with, not against, each other to create a strong, sustainable framework for growth. This is a common thread running through countries that are succeeding in the global economy.
• Inclusion and Diversity: Diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance! Whether economic, societal, cultural or gender, inclusion and diversity is an area where clear-sighted policies can lead to sustainable economic growth, helping Africa to deliver a balanced and sustainable development. This can also be a source of innovation.
• Sustainability: The world needs solutions for big challenges like energy, climate change, water, food, nature and social issues. Africa’s population is projected to hit 2.4 billion by 2050, putting pressure on resources. Circular business models will ensure optimal utilization of available resources and enhanced productivity across the value chain.