Policy Brief
Made in Africa

The challenge of industrialization

International goals and Africa’s aspirations

The international community has a new set of development goals, and they reflect Africa’s aspirations much more closely than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) they replaced. Their single most important contribution is to recognize that sustainable development, especially in Africa, means creating good jobs—jobs that pay living wages and offer a chance to develop new skills (Goal 8). In Africa today only one in five workers finds employment in the wage economy. The rest are forced to settle for low paying jobs, often through self-employment, in the services sector, where output per person is only about twice that in agriculture.

The SDGs also suggest how to grow good jobs. Goal 9 sets as an objective to ‘by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product.’ Industry is singled out because it is a high productivity sector capable of absorbing large numbers of moderately skilled workers. Between 1950 and 2006, about half of the catch-up by developing countries to advanced economy levels of output per worker was explained by labor moving out of agriculture into manufacturing combined with rising productivity within industry. In Africa manufacturing output per worker is six times that in agriculture.