Three Myths About Industry in Africa

Read the article on key myths about industry in Africa written by John Page, Non-resident Fellow at UNU-WIDER in the Foresight Africa 2014 series issued by the Brookings Institution. Page co-leads with Finn Tarp the Learning to Compete (L2C): Industrial Development in Africa project.

Despite the African Union’s emphasis on promoting African industry since 2008, Africa’s industrial sector has remained stagnant. In the 1970s, the continent’s average share of manufacturing value added in GDP was only 10 per cent, yet by 2010 it had not changed. But why, despite a major focus on policies to promote industrial growth by African and global policymakers, has African industry simply not grown?

John Page, Brookings Senior Fellow, argues that many of the industrial policies implemented in African countries are based on biases about the region. According to Page, what many policymakers think they know about Africa’s industries and what makes them grow is, in fact, wrong. He points to three major misconceptions or myths about African industries:

  1. African firms are not competitive.
  2. Overregulation is holding the sector back.
  3. Small and medium enterprises are the key to industrial growth.

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(Source: Brookings Instittution)