YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
ZAMBIAâ€™S newly elected Commissioner of Trade and Industry at the African Union (AU) Albert Muchanga says one of his major tasks at the continental body will be to foster the industrialisation policy as it is the only way the continent can record rapid growth.
Ambassador Muchanga says African countries should aggressively embrace industrialisation as it is key to economic development and poverty alleviation.
He said in an interview that Africa is poor partly because of lack of effective policies and implementation of industrialisation.
â€œThe United Nations (UN) conference on trade and development is projecting that by 2024, 16 of the 48 least developed countries would have graduated, leaving the number to 32. Out of the 32, two would be from outside Africa and 30 would remain in Africa. It would make Africa the least developed region in the world.
â€œThis is on account of a number of factors: We as a continent are recording slow economic growth because of huge dependency on imports. The continued dependency means the impact of economic diversification programmes, being followed by African countries have not made significant headway. We have not been able to upgrade our economic base and industrialisation as key segment of upgrading our industrial base,â€ he said.
Ambassador Muchanga observed most of the developed countries are where they are on the basis of strong industrial policies.
He said there is need to harmonise both national and regional industrial policies to enable them to work in sync to achieve rapid industrialisation.
Ambassador Muchanga said rapid industrialisation will open up opportunities for increased trade among African countries.
â€œAll of us are now commodity producers, although the levels of intra-Africa trade are quite low. It is somewhere between 10 and 12 percent. But of course when you look at the regional level, they are quite high, SADC is highest between 18 and 24 percent. We need to modernise, upgrade our economies of Africa through industrialisation,â€ Ambassador Muchanga said.
He said there is need to develop a culture of co-operation among African countries as this is the only way the continent can achieve more.
â€œThere is realisation that we can achieve more by working together. It is for this reason that in 2015, the AU came up with the agenda 2063, which is a Blue Print for economic development of Africa.
â€œThe vision is by that time, Africa should be made of only upper-middle income and developed countries,â€ he said.