D4D Digital for Development
A lack of practical experience with international industrial value chain partnerships that is Africa’s problem, not a lack of digital know-how.
A focus on “Digital”, “Start-ups” and on “Gender” distracts policymakers and stakeholders from developing the policy agenda for structural change: “Industrial policy to increase private investment in labour-intensive advanced manufacturing and services, containing global carbon emissions, conflicts and pandemics”
- European companies grossly underestimate the opportunities of Africa's advanced industrialisation.
- African SMEs fear continued Western dominance in international industrial partnerships.
- An unprecedented opportunity for Europe to create "with" Africa a new market with 25% of the total active world population.
Africa’s industrialisation and its resulting purchasing power will drive its digitisation, not the other way around.
D4D in itself is unable to create more jobs per year than Africa’s
demographic growth and contain poverty.
African SMEs that realise massive partnerships with peers from more advanced economies accelerate the structural modernisation of its agri, food and manufacturing industries. They do manage to generate 20 million new jobs per year and, in addition, contain global CO2 emissions, conflicts and pandemics.
D4D heralds are proud to present examples of African digital innovation power (M-Pesa payment systems) and its ultra-fast absorption of mobile telephony. Mobile payment systems were already introduced in 2006 - 15 years ago - and shortly afterwards an unexpectedly 80+% of African citizens were also addicted to their mobile phones and selfies. Only telecom operators and equipment manufacturers benefited from it. Africa’s poverty rate remained virtually unchanged. In South-East Asia, on the other hand, modern industrialisation lifted one billion people out of extreme poverty, catapulted China into the factory of the world and drove the digitisation of its economy and society.
Thousands of established African SMEs seeking partnerships with more advanced sector peers (from Europe?) are indeed able to force a breakthrough in the structural modernisation of the African manufacturing industry and by 2040 create decent jobs for the 164 million African higher skilled youngsters. The exemplary function of successful SME partnerships also stimulates foreign direct investments and creates a middle class with 25% of the active world population. A new huge market with purchasing power for European upscale products and services.
Africa’s sustainable growth: “Why fight for the holy grail of the manufacturing industry” refute doomsday thinkers, “when the fourth industrial revolution leads to less unskilled labour through automation and robotisation”?
The needs of the African markets are immense. Partnerships between African and European SMEs transfer advanced industrial know-how and technologies (robots) to Africa for the local hydro-solar powered manufacturing, in the short chain close to the end user, of competitive products. The climate problem requires global taxes to be levied on CO2 emissions. This increases the cost of the exuberant back and forth transportation between Africa-China-Europe-Africa of raw materials, semi-finished and finished products, and reduces the attractiveness of China as the world's factory.
This deglobalisation of manufacturing and globalisation of industrial know-how creates millions of jobs. The entry into the modernity of a broad middle class in a continental African free trade zone, with 25% of the world's population, creates other millions jobs in support and facilitation industries and services (logistics, HR, maintenance, packaging, international sales and marketing, digital services and products). Foreign direct investments and international industrial partnerships, by definition, operate in the formal economy, generating income for the governments for investments in infrastructure, transport, education, health care and administrations.
Together, industry, infrastructures, related services and government create an enormous middle class with purchasing power for private homes and apartments, household appliances, furniture, cars, travel, tourism, restaurants and leisure. Increased prosperity automatically dips African demographic explosion and further contains its carbon footprint, conflicts and migration.
A sense of urgency is indicated for the realisation of Africa’s industrialisation. Today, all African countries can already rely on a high number of engineers, economists, digital specialists and agronomists trained by professors with a Western PhD. Families invest in college education for their most gifted youngsters, to note however that five years after graduation, the vast majority of highly qualified people are still looking for a decent job. A cause of recent radicalisation, even in fairly stable democracies like Senegal.
A broad change of mentality is urgently required. In Europe about “The other Africa” (Afrique n’est pas celle que vous croyez); in Africa about “Entrepreneurs, dare to enter into industrial partnerships with more advanced peers” (Entrepreneur, osez partager votre rêve avec des partenaires!). This results in the following positive effects:
- In Africa. The structural modernisation of the agri, food and manufacturing industries and the creation of millions of jobs in the formal economy.
- In Europe. Neighbouring continent Africa, a new market with 25% of the world's population for upscale European products and services.
- Containment of climate problems and pandemics.
Not investing in Africa NOW will lead to more poverty, conflicts, migration, more climate problems and natural disasters, more pandemics and will slow down the recovery of Europe.
2/4/2021 karel.uyttendaele @ pandora.be
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