Ahead of the two African Union Summits on Industrialization and Economic Diversification, and on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the ONE campaign calls for a series of urgent and bold policy actions to harness the potential of youth to build a better and prosperous Africa. The highly anticipated summits, which will take place this week, in Niamey, Niger come as Africa recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and grapples with the fallout from global economic and political events. With a growing youth population on the continent, which accounts for 60% of the total unemployed on the continent, Africa needs to create around 15 million new decent jobs every year.
The ONE Campaign calls on African leaders and policymakers to commit to the following priority actions that are critical to driving economic prosperity and job creation through industrialization.
- First, African governments should implement national industrial policies that stimulate investment in competitive and labour-intensive sectors. National policies should provide well-targeted tax incentives that can attract investors and stimulate job creation. Policy reforms should also reduce import duties on essential machinery and equipment that are not manufactured locally.
Legislation at the national level should establish equity and guarantee funds to reduce the risks of investing in start-ups (new companies). Laws should also protect intellectual property rights, streamline and automate administrative procedures, streamline tax administration and make information easily accessible through comprehensive digital platforms.
At the local level, small farmers should be encouraged to produce collection centers to sort, store, sell and process their products to increase their income and reduce waste. It is also necessary to facilitate their access to credit, subsidized loans, grants and financial services.
At the regional level, the highest priority for countries is to encourage investment and trade through the activation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was launched in January 2021. Trade under the CFTA was launched in January 2021. Once fully implemented, the trade area will establish The African Continental Free Zone is a single African market for goods and services, covering approximately 1.4 billion people with a combined GDP of more than US$2.5 trillion across Africa.
- The second priority action could be to improve the business environment to make it easy and affordable to produce goods and services and to facilitate trade. African countries can start by adopting the African Union’s protocols on freedom of movement, allowing young people to access markets and freely compete for work and business across national borders.
- The third priority action could be investing in cleaner infrastructure that supports industrialization, job creation and income generation. Expanding road and transport networks will open connectivity to rural areas and the regional hinterland.
Off-grid clean and renewable energy solutions can complement national plans to improve access to reliable and affordable energy. To bridge the digital divide, countries must incentivize investments to reach 90% of internet penetration in Africa by 2030.
Above all, said summits must accept the fact that Africa is made up of a dynamic, energetic and productive population, and thus constitutes the continent’s greatest asset and engine of economic growth and social development.
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ONE is a global organization working to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, so everyone, everywhere can live lives of dignity and opportunity. We are impartial and pressure governments to do more to tackle extreme poverty and preventable disease, especially in Africa, and empower citizens to hold their governments accountable. You can learn more at www.one.org.