To industrialise, West Africa must integrate

In an interview with the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), NEPAD CEO Ibrahim Mayaki analyses the dynamics of industrialisation in Africa and explains the challenges facing West Africa in this area. Industrialisation in the sub-region lags significantly behind the two major industrial regions that make up North Africa on the one hand and Southern and East Africa on the other. The main obstacles to the industrialisation of West Africa lie in the structure of industrial tools, designed almost exclusively for the extraction of raw materials; weak co-operation between states and the private sector, especially small and medium enterprises; and inadequate regional strategy, which translates into excessively high non-tariff barriers and insufficient border infrastructure. This last obstacle, particularly constraining in West Africa, is all the more damaging since the regional market could serve as a training ground for local industries. It is for this reason that NEPAD promotes the establishment of cross-border development corridors such as the Lagos-Abidjan corridor. These projects include roads, energy infrastructure and telecommunications networks, intended to facilitate movement from one country to another. They also aim to boost inter-regional trade by promoting exchanges between the areas through corridors and by connecting rural production areas to urban areas of consumption, especially in the food industry.