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Skills, investment and exports from manufacturing firms in Africa

Author

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  • Måns Söderbom
  • Francis Teal

Abstract

It has been argued that Africa will not be able to export manufactures as it lacks the necessary skills. Without an ability to export there will only be an incentive to invest in the sector if domestic demand grows rapidly. Comparative data for four African countries - the Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe - shows that in the early 1990s investment in manufacturing remained very low. The micro evidence on manufacturing exports is wholly consistent with the macro in suggesting these are, for most African countries, negligible. An exception is Zimbabwe. The paper uses a longer time series from Ghana to ask how skills have impacted on manufacturing investment and exports in the 1990s. Two dimensions of skills are defined and measured. The first is that observable in the education and experience of the workforce. The second is the underlying efficiency with which the firm operates. The latter is shown to be a significant determinant of both investment and exports. These exports are relatively capital intensive; unskilled labour intensive exports remain negligible. Possible reasons for these outcomes are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2000. "Skills, investment and exports from manufacturing firms in Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2000-08, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2000-08
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcel Fafchamps, 2007. "Human Capital, Exports, and Wages," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-069, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. Arne Bigsten & Paul Collier & Stefan Dercon & Marcel Fafchamps & Bernard Gauthier & Jan Willem Gunning & Abena Oduro & Remco Oostendorp & Catherine Pattillo & Måns Soderbom & Francis Teal & Albert Zeu, 2004. "Do African Manufacturing Firms Learn from Exporting?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(3), pages 115-141.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    African;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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