Positive Foreign Spillover Effects Needed in Africa’s SEZs Operations:EDITORIAL COMMENT


Africa’s decades long trailing behind  the rest of the world in terms of industrialization is a thorny issue that has attracted comments from various development economists and experts.

In order to scale up industrialization efforts, they contend, Africa needs a well crafted and strategic 21st Century  industrial policy. Increased investments in logistics, transportation and infrastructure which are  non-negotiable they contend, must underpin the industrial policies of the various African countries.

On Special Economic Zones(SEZs) even though they admit  can contribute to Africa’s economic development, but they are  quick to caution, that foreign companies with investments in the Zones should have a positive spill-over effect on local companies through supply value chain linkages.

This,  in their opinion, could help local companies  to benefit from technology transfer, capacity building and for that matter, their growth needed to positively  impact local economic  development. The  foreign and local joint ventures paradigm they highly recommend ought to be pursued seriously with reasonable support from the public sector.

Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) they argue, should be  properly linked to the local companies and  for that matter, the economies of the host African countries. Through this way, local African economies  could benefit from the positive  impact of the operations of  foreign companies  for shared gains and prosperity.

Without win-win approaches, they caution,  African countries  could be faced with the situation whereby incoming foreign companies continue to  maximize gains and prosperity from their operations to the disadvantage of  the gross national economies of the host countries..

Such a situation in their opinion, wouldn’t engender the much expected  contribution of FDI to the growth and development of the economies African countries. More foreign direct inflows into African countries without proper linkages to their local economies, expert views say, wouldn’t necessarily lead to economic development.

Promoting  and supporting  domestic investments ought to be equally taken seriously within Africa’s 21st Century industrial development policy frameworks they also advocate.

That Africa has for decades been missing out in terms of heavy machinery and other industrial goods manufacturing and only confined mainly to raw material exports, is no understatement  .The experts contend, Africa’s attention shouldn’t be too much focused on catching up with the rest of world in this area as the odds are not in favour of Africa in thus turbulent world.

Within  Africa’s 21st Century industrial policy frameworks they recommend the continent  must rather pay special attention to  industry without smokestack as an area to employ for  scaling  up the continent’s  industrialization ambitions. A well balanced and  integrated heavy smoke manufacturing and industry without smokestack ,approach,  is also recommended.

They recommend more involvement of local companies, in light industrial manufacturing through the SEZs and where foreign companies are also much involved . They also recommend Africa could also take due  advantage of her  competitive edge in agriculture/agribusiness, horticulture, and natural resources extraction  in which Africa abounds. They are however quick to emphasize prudent, ecofriendly and sustainable natural resources exploitation in African countries  and ensuring they don’t  get trapped in the so-called  resource curse.

In  as much as we of  the Ecoenvironews Africa magazine, wish to commend the AUC and all Free Zone Operators on the continent, we also would like to crave your indulgence to all times, be circumspect about  points being raised by various development economists in Africa and around the globe.

Ecoenvironews Africa do take special note of the various insightful lectures on Africa’s industrialization and the underlying challenges by  Prof John Page, Non-resident Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Development ,Africa Growth Initiative.

Africa’s most youthful continent status underpinned by an ever increasing high rate of youth unemployment  should be a cause for concern to all and Africa must go all out to all use all available weapons to remedy the situation.

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) is a weapon Africa must hold on firmly and use it to the maximum advantage of the continent towards changing the narrative. Africa as continent has been abundantly favoured by nature and its people deserve.

Africa cannot afford to again underutilize this golden opportunity and for whatever reasons.

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