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Regional development at the heart of Africa’s structural transformation

Feb 25 '16 | By La Afrique Media | Views: 60 | Comments: 0

Structural transformation is Africa’s overarching priority. But despite some progress over the last decade, current policies have not proved effective enough at speeding up job creation in productive sectors.

New approaches are all the more necessary to accelerate structural transformation in the face of Africa’s unique demographic and spatial dynamics. In the decades to come, a fast rise in urban and rural populations, acute regional disparities and the constraints of global competition will make the challenge of transforming the continent a unique undertaking, although with wide variations between North, South and sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa’s transformation path will thus have to cross unchartered territory. Past experiences of demographic, urban and economic transition may inspire action, but they cannot provide blueprints. As for current strategic options hinging on specific sectors, they may not be enough to meet the double challenge of massive job creation and productivity growth on their own. Pragmatic, context-specific approaches combining their merits will have to be crafted. Africa has no choice but to innovate.

But how? One way is to start from the unique structural features of African economies: the demographic boom demands to place job creation at the centre of development strategies; its stark regional disparities call for regional approaches to development – multi-sectoral and place-based. This report focuses on the latter: it explores ways in which African policy makers may better tap African regions’ diversity and unlock their potential by building on specific local resources.

Figure 6.5 Projected workforce growth, 2010-50: Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, China, India, Europe and the United StatesFigure 6.5 Projected workforce growth, 2010-50: Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, China, India, Europe and the United States

Source: UNDESA (2012).

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