Commissioner Fatima Haram Acyl stresses the need to accelerate Africa’s Structural Development in the studio of Afro Radio 105.3 FM

By African Union Commission (AUC)

The Commissioner for Trade and Industry, H. E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl was interviewed yesterday in the studio of the Ethiopian Afro Radio 105.3 FM. The objective of the interview was to bring the Department of Trade and Industry's initiatives to both the policymaking and grassroots levels. She stressed Africa's dire need to accelerate industrialization in order to address the huge unemployment issue facing Africa especially for the rising youth population.

The Commissioner highlighted that Africa's political independence of the past 50 years needed to be completed by economic independence. In this regards, she stated that irrespective of the fact that Africa is endowed with both human and natural resources, the dependency on donor funding and concessional loans from multinational institutions and other wealthier nations continue to derail Africa's full independence. Answering a question on Agenda 2063, she explained that the African Union Commission through a wide consultative process has been engaged in defining Agenda 2063 which envisions Africa's socio-economic transformation, inclusive growth and sustainable development. She reiterated that the mandate of the Trade and Industry Department is derived from the Continental Initiatives and frameworks that are central to the continental development agenda such as the Plan of Action for Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA), the Boosting Intra-African Trade and the realization of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The ultimate objective, she said, is to create employment and wealth especially for the young people and contribute towards inclusive growth and sustainable development.

With regards to the key challenges facing industrialization efforts in Africa, H.E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl stressed that Africa is not only under-industrialized but it has been de-industrializing. “It is pretty backward in terms of industrialization. One of the factors that hinder industrialization in Africa is lack of productive capacities, technological capabilities and proper infrastructure, however, this should not be seen in isolation of other key factors including; lack of political will at national level to implement continental initiatives; lack of key skills, lack of data that can inform the decision; lack of coherent policy frameworks that can steer industrialization through a bottom—up, value chain approach, innovation, incentives for Intellectual Property Rights and investment attraction”, she said. The Commissioner also underlined that the focus of the department is to promote commodity based Industrialization using raw materials.

Comparing the current level of Africa's industrialization with the rest of the world, the Commissioner indicated that the African Union Commission believes in the establishment of or in promoting regional and continental value chains in strategic commodities, both agro-based industries and in the minerals sector. ''This is the only way skilled and high end employment especially for our young people and women can be created. It is the only way for wealth to be created along these value chains. With the deepening of the integration agenda through the RECs' intra-regional trade, the proposed Tripartite Free Trade Area among COMESA, EAC and SADC, and the looming Continental FTA, there will be seamless trade across borders, removal of trade barriers both Tariff and non-tariff, and free movement of people, capital and factors of production. This will promote sustainable economic growth and will contribute to the socio-economic transformation as envisioned under Agenda 2063'', she concluded.