Is African manufacturing skill-constrained?
Total factor productivity has been low in most Sub-Saharan Africa. It is often said that the binding constraint on African industrial development is the inadequate supply of technologically capable workers. And many cross-country studies imply that the low level of human capital in Africa is an important source of low growth in per capita income. The results of the authors'study do not necessarily conflict with this view. They indicate that in non-competitive industrial sectors, with little inflow of new technology, the contribution of technological abilities, however it is measured, is limited. If liberalization of the economy generated greater competition, or if export growth were accelerated --permitting the import of inputs embodying new technology - local skills could contribute significantly more in raising output. The experience of other countries also suggests that as the economy opens to flows of international knowledge - whether through technology transfers or through informal transfers from purchasers of export - the technological capacity of local industry becomes important. The policy implications of this analysis are clear: Without the prospect of a more competitive environment, continued efforts to develop high-level industrial skills may be wasteful. But the absence of such skills may limit the benefits to the industrial sector from future liberalization, as a result of which the supply response toimproved incentives may be weak.
|Date of creation:||31 Oct 1999|
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