Ahead of the AU Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification, ONE Campaign is advocating for a raft of urgent and bold policy actions to tap youth potential towards building a better and prosperous Africa.
According to a release from One.org, the highly anticipated Summit to be held in Niger this month is taking place as Africa recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and grapples with after-shocks from global economic and political events. With its booming young population that account for 60 percent of all of the continent’s jobless, Africa needs to create about 15 million new decent jobs yearly.
ONE Campaign calls on African leaders and policy makers to commit to the following priority actions that are critical for driving economic prosperity and job creation through industrialisation.
First, African governments should implement national industrial policies that stimulate investments into sectors that are both competitive and labor-intensive. National policies should provide for well-targeted tax incentives that can attract investors and spur job creation. Policy reforms should also reduce tariffs on the importation of essential machinery and equipment that are not locally created.
National level legislation should establish equity and guarantee funds to de-risk investment in start-ups. Laws should also protect intellectual property rights, simplify and automate administrative procedures, harmonize tax administration, and make information readily available through one-stop digital platforms.
At the local level, smallholder farmers should be facilitated to produce aggregation centers for grading, storage, sales and processing of their goods to boost incomes and minimize wastage. They should also be facilitated to access credit, subsidized loans, grants and financial services.
Regionally, the top priority is for countries to foster investment and trade by operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched in January 2021. Trading under the continental free trade pact was launched in January 2021. Once fully implemented, AfCFTA will create a single African market for goods and services, covering about 1.4 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of more than 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars across Africa.
A second priority action is to improve the business environment to make it easy and affordable to produce goods and services, and to trade. African countries can start by adopting AU protocols on free movement, allowing youth to access markets and compete freely for work and business across national borders.
The third priority action is to invest in cleaner infrastructure that supports industrialisation, jobs creation and income generation. Expanding road and transport networks will open up connectivity to rural areas and the regional hinterland.
Clean, renewable off-grid energy solutions can complement national plans to improve access to reliable and affordable power. And to reduce the digital divide, countries should incentivise investments to achieve 90 percent internet penetration across Africa by 2030.
Above all, the Summit must accept the reality that Africa is made up of a dynamic, vibrant and productive population, and who are the continent’s biggest asset and driver of economic growth and social development.
About The ONE Campaign: ONE is a global organization campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, so that everyone, everywhere can lead a life of dignity and opportunity. We are nonpartisan and pressure governments to do more to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, and empower citizens to hold their governments to account. Read more at www.one.org.