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African Industrialization

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on August 25, 2018 10:30

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The general image of Africa is not one of industries. Vast plains dotted with wild antelope, the occasional lion or two, gorillas in montane forests, yes. Automotive assembly plants, techno hubs, serious industrialization, not really.

The young man was tearful. “My family pooled everything they had to buy me a place on the truck. How can I go back and face them?” He had been rescued from certain death. Traffickers had promised to smuggle him and a dozen others into Europe, then took all their money and abandoned them to die in the Sahara.

A growing population, repressive governments, few opportunities, family pressure and the perpetual bombardment of television images of wealth, comfort and graceful living are some of the forces that drive young people to risk everything to reach their dream.

Young people, desperate for jobs,

risk crossing the ocean on boats like these



Africa lacks some of the essential elements for rapid industrialization. Creativity abounds; youngsters in Ghana write innovative code, Kenyans use cellular phone technology to overcome the risks of carrying cash. But colonial powers left African countries unable to trade with each other. Roads lead to ports, banking systems are incompatible, technology standards differ. Corrupt politicians count on international support.

Traffic in Douala, Cameroon is incredible.


study by Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies underlined the urgency for drastic changes. Africa is going to fall further and further behind the rest of the world in average income. Little growth, if any, since 2010 is a result of low agricultural productivity, little development apart from low level urban services, and limited industrialization.

The author, Dr Jakkie Celliers, points out that urbanization, changing from very low-productivity agriculture to low-productivity urban-based retail services has been ‘growth reducing’. He believes that a new commodity super-cycle, placing an increased demand on African minerals, would be essential to lift Africa out of stagnation, but warns against dependence on exports of prime materials. He warns against the dangers of dependence on export of raw materials, vulnerable to price fluctuations.

Export of raw materials also lend themselves to massive corruption, with little benefit accruing to the people. The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the richest in mineral resources in the world, is one of the poorest nations, and most revenues never reach state coffers.

Should Europe really wish to avoid the threat of growing immigration in future, the advantages of a young population in Africa should be noted. Instead of fighting to keep young Senegalese and Ghanaians from working illegally in assembly plants in Leeds and Lille, factories could be set up in Dakar and Kumasi. Instead of immigrants seeking employment on subsidized cotton fields in the US production of prime long staple cotton could be encouraged in western Mali and Nigeria.

However, development needs communication and security. Corrupt policemen and politicians will kill any chance of development, and will displace the problem to already developed countries. International rules to prevent corruption and push for open governance, like Dodd Frank, created a brief spurt of economic hope. Lacking that youngsters look to illegal immigration as their only hope.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on August 25, 2018 10:30

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Source: KSTP

An Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokesperson confirmed the flight initially landed in the West African nation of...

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