Industries without smokestacks

Where are we on African industrialization?

While it is manufacturing that is most closely associated with employment-intensive growth, there are also ‘industries without smokestacks’ in agriculture and services that can create good jobs, but investors in these industries don’t see Africa as an attractive location. How can this change? What patterns of growth and transformation can contribute to diversification and to building a dynamic economy? Can those patterns allow a majority of citizens to effectively participate in the growth process?  


Industry in Africa has declined as a share of both global production and trade since the 1980s, and domestic private investment has remained at about 11 percent of GDP since 1990. This is well below the level needed for rapid structural change, and foreign investment is overwhelmingly in oil, gas and minerals. Building on UNU-WIDER’s work under “Learning to Compete (L2C)”, this project focuses on three drivers – exports, capabilities and clusters – that together determine the global pattern of industrial investment. To boost job growth Africa needs a strategy to master them, and this component aims to support that.

Case studies and publications

By employing some of the tools and approaches developed in the L2C project, “Industries without Smokestacks” intends to identify and explain relevant patterns of growth in terms of practical utility. Along with a set of selected country-specific case studies, a set of general papers presenting the analytical and policy issues involved will be published as WIDER Working Papers and peer reviewed publications

Keep an eye on the project website and WIDERAngle blog for updates on research from this project. These materials will be a valuable resource for policy makers and organizations looking for hard data regarding the challenges of industrialization and growth.