The 2nd Session of Liangxiang Forum | African Industrialisation: Retrospect and Prospect

On June 8, 2022, the Institute for International and Area Studies (IIAS) of Tsinghua University hosted the second lecture of “Liangxiang Forum” in the spring semester 2022 on Zoom. The lecture entitled “African Industrialisation: Retrospect and Prospect” was delivered by Anthony Black, Emeritus Professor, School of Economics, University of Cape Town and member of the Academic Committee of the IIAS, and presided over by Yang Chongsheng, Assistant Professor of the IIAS and Postdoctoral Fellow, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Doctoral students from the IIAS, scholars and students from universities at home and abroad, as well as people interested in related topics attended the lecture.

At the beginning, Professor Black introduced the growth of per capita GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, the share of Africa’s output value in world GDP and the level of industrialisation in Africa through several charts. He pointed out that Africa has a low level of industrialisation and a low share of manufacturing in GDP, and then briefed about the role of industrialisation and the development status of industry in Africa. He began by explaining the importance of manufacturing to development from a variety of angles, then went on to elaborate on the deindustrialisation trend in developing countries and the gradual “humped shape” change to the employment share of manufacturing. He argued that such change is a global phenomenon, but often occurs in low-income developing countries. Professor Black also stated that Africa’s early industrial experience was a failure, despite a number of policies similar to those in East Asia. In addition, between 1980 and 1994, the share of manufacturing in 13 out of 24 African countries declined. Since 2000, the added value of Africa’s manufacturing industry has grown at the same rate as the world, but behind Asia.

In the last part, Professor Black talked to the audience about possible work-based paths for Africa. He believed, the African continent faces three prospects for industrial development: Mobilization of Africa’s rich resources for industrial development, labor-intensive industrial development, and regional integration and regional value chain. He noted the rapid growth of Sub-Saharan Africa’s exports since 2000, the high level of regional integration in Southern Africa and the integration of Southern African countries into global value chains as major resource exporters. Finally, he made a number of policy suggestions for industrial development, including setting up special economic zones, removing restrictive factors and speeding up regional integration.

After the lecture, Professor Black and the audience discussed about the link between urbanization and industrialisation in Africa, the challenges facing South Africa’s economy, and whether the former colonial powers still have an influence on Africa’s industrialisation.

Anthony Black is Emeritus Professor, School of Economics, University of Cape Town and member of the Academic Committee of the IIAS. His main research areas include development economics, trade and industrial policies. He served as an adviser to the automotive policies of the South African Department of Trade and Industry, as well as to other African governments and international organizations, including the African Development Bank, the African Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. His most recent publications are Towards Employment-Intensive Growth in South Africa (2016), Value Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges of Integration into the Global Economy (2019), etc.

Edited by: Dong Hui
Typeset by: Cheng Yao
Proofread by: Sub-Saharan African Studies Research Group