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Three Varieties of Africa’s Industrial Future


  • Naudé, Wim

    () (RWTH Aachen University)


This paper shows that African economies have generally not de-industrialized, that manufacturing growth is very possible, and moreover that the contribution of manufacturing in Africa has been underestimated. As far as the future is concerned, African countries will in differing degrees experience three varieties of industrialization, all influenced by new and emerging technologies. In one variety, labelled "acquiring traditional manufacturing capabilities" technological change is too fast and complex for some countries to immediately benefit, requiring an estimated 15-year window to put the complementary investments and business ecosystems in place, while promoting old-fashioned labor-intensive manufacturing. In a second variety, technological innovation is changing the nature of manufacturing and is turning services into the main sector for structural transformation. This variety is labelled "fostering sectors with the characteristics of manufacturing" to denote that services now perform functions previously expected from manufacturing. A third variety of future industrialization is labelled "resurgent entrepreneurship-lead industrialization" denoting that some African countries will take part in new and advanced types of manufacturing, through indigenous entrepreneurs starting high-technology firms. This third variety is elaborated with reference to recent examples. The paper concludes with broad suggestions for industrial policies that are consistent with these varieties of industrialization.

Suggested Citation

  • Naudé, Wim, 2019. "Three Varieties of Africa’s Industrial Future," IZA Discussion Papers 12678, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12678

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
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    3. Naudé, Wim, 2017. "Entrepreneurship, Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 10855, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    9. Nguimkeu,Pierre & Zeufack,Albert G., 2019. "Manufacturing in Structural Change in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8992, The World Bank.
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    15. Wim Naudé, 2016. "Entrepreneurship and the Reallocation of African Farmers," Agrekon, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(1-2), pages 1-33, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mensah, Emmanuel B., 2020. "Is sub-Saharan Africa deindustrializing?," MERIT Working Papers 2020-045, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Ben Jebli, Mehdi & Farhani, Sahbi & Guesmi, Khaled, 2020. "Renewable energy, CO2 emissions and value added: Empirical evidence from countries with different income levels," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 402-410.
    3. International Energy Agency & International Renewable Energy Agency & United Nations Statistics Division & World Bank & World Health Organization, "undated". "Tracking SDG 7," World Bank Other Operational Studies 33822, The World Bank.
    4. Lyons, Glenn, 2020. "Walking as a service – Does it have legs?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 271-284.

    More about this item


    technology; entrepreneurship; manufacturing; industrial policy; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution

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