African experts urge concerted effort to strengthen manufacturing sector

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A portrait of Managing Director of Dignity, Salma Salifu, in Accra, Ghana on October 13, 2015. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

African countries and pan-African institutions on Monday urged concerted efforts to deal with critical issues in the manufacturing sector.

The urgent call was made by African experts and policymakers as they gathered to discuss on the operationalization phase of the imminent African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Monday, as they described the continental free trade pact as a positive imperative to strengthen collaboration among African countries to tackle common challenges.

Parfait Onanga, the UN’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, who noted that the African continent “is still at the crossroads,” urged African countries to work together if the continent is to successfully respond to the critical issues it has been facing, mainly in the manufacturing sector.

“We need boldness to deal with critical issues facing the continent,” the UN special envoy stressed, adding “We also need to realize that no country can overcome challenges of the 21st century alone. We need to work with each other through instruments like the AfCFTA and succeed together as a result.”

Onanga also stressed that Africa “needs a surge in diplomacy for peace in every part of the continent since most of our problems are governance-related,” which he said is wrongly shaping Africa.

Gertrude Mothibe, Chairperson of the Southern African Generic Medicine Association, also emphasized the need for the continent to push to grow and strengthen the industry sector, with particular emphasis given to the pharmaceutical sector, which is presently costing the continent due to African countries’ over-dependence on imported medicines and other pharmaceutical outputs.

“Africans need to be bold to take and implement decisions they make about their continent without fear, especially industrialization. We have the skills and knowledge. All we need if an enabling environment and access to finance to succeed,” Mothibe said.

Ali Mufuruki, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Info-Tech Investment Group and Vice-Chair of the Afro-Champions Club, underscored that “it is critical that Africa develops its own manufacturing and research capacity.”

Mufuruki also stressed that the AfCFTA is designed to provide solutions that African nations need to deal with the challenges in the manufacturing and research sectors.

“The endorsement and ratification for the agreement by a growing number of African states will make it possible for the African private sector to seize the emerging significant investment opportunities that the manufacturing and research sectors offer,” he added.

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