An Associate Professor of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, Professor Charles Godfred Ackah, has said that Africa needs accelerated growth and structural change in order to develop.
That, he said, would be by creating decent jobs to deliver the people from poverty.
He said structural change was the process of reallocation of economic activity across the sectors of agriculture, manufacturing and services.
Prof. Ackah said this when he delivered a paper on “Promoting Structural Transformation through IntraAfrica Trade” at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences public forum in Accra last Monday.
The event, held in collaboration with UMB, was dubbed: “African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Challenges and Prospects”.
Prof. Ackah said the main determinants of the nature of structural transformation were the industrial and trade policies implemented by the various governments, and that “the importance of industrial development in bringing about the needed structural transformation of African economies cannot be overemphasised”.
“Africa needs to industrialise to meet the development aspirations of its people and create high quality jobs and prosperity for all.
“This is the only sure way of creating progressively the conditions for the realisation of the long term objectives of self-reliant and selfsustained development,” Prof. Ackah said.
He noted that Africa must no longer accept to be a continent of raw materials for Europe, and that “there is no denying the fact that industrialisation is a critical tool for economic transformation in Africa”.
African trade policy, he said, must, therefore, focus on economic diversification and value creation, and not exploitation.
African governments, Prof. Ackah said, must invest in adequate physical infrastructure, including regional transport links and telecommunications network, together with institutional arrangements for their management.
He said poor infrastructure had been cited as a central barrier to progress in Africa, and that the continent’s road densities “are the lowest in the world”.
He said African governments must invest in more vocational and technical training to close the skills gap, stressing that the way to benefit from the AfCFTA was not more of primary and secondary school graduates, and that several African entrepreneurs and multinational corporations cited the lack of skills as a major obstacle which had restrained fi rms on the continent from being competitive.