[LETTERS] Here's how Africa can fast industrialise its economies

The industries recently established in Ethiopia, as just one example, would not be there if the country had waited to accumulate its own capital.
Workers at a Wolfram concession in Bugesera District. / File.
Workers at a Wolfram concession in Bugesera District. / File.

Editor,

RE:Why does Africa struggle to industrialise its economies?” (The New Times, August 13).

The industries recently established in Ethiopia, as just one example, would not be there if the country had waited to accumulate its own capital.

Capital does not refer to finance only, but also to machinery used in production. So, if any African country was to wait for that time when it will be able to mobilise capital locally and with own ability to manufacture machinery used in production, you are looking at another century from now before that can be achieved.

Ten years ago, my professor told me that the economy of Canada, a member of the G7, was 40 per cent foreign-owned. That country does not make its own cars but assembles most Japanese cars sold locally and, using a large percentage of local content, they also assemble almost all American cars meant for its own market and export, using 99.9999 per cent Canadian labour (this is my own estimate based on the fact that the only Japanese working in those factories are in the top management only), who the rest, who are in thousands, are Canadians.

This does not mean though that Canada cannot design a car of its own. Remember that they have the technology to do so. There could be other economic reasons they chose to not design their own cars. If they can make the CRJ planes you see in our skies, making a car would not be difficult for them.

South Africa, the second biggest African economy, assembles European and North American cars, “not” using South African capital. At one time those automobile factories were employing close to 15,000 South Africans.

How many people work in our factories?

For me, all we need to do is to focus on training skilled labour force in everything, including technology, while at the same time allowing foreign capital investments to manufacture various products lo0cally and also provide jobs to thousands of Rwandans.

Last example: Long time ago, Mercedes Benz used to manufacture trucks in India but the plant was later closed. Using German technology, the Indians designed TATA trucks that we are all familiar with. From there, TATA has branched to other segments and now manufactures cars, buses, and pickups.

So, if African countries really want to industrialise, the first thing they should do is to put aside their national egos.

Seth

 

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