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Indaba focuses on growth

An image of Uzenzele Holdings executive director Nadia Rawjee

NADIA RAWJEE Collaboration is needed to ensure Africa's manufacturing growth is a sustainable success

17th November 2023

     

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The tenth Manufacturing Indaba, held at the Sandton Convention Centre from October 24 to 26, provided an insightful overview of Africa's manufacturing landscape. Themed ‘Capitalising on Manufacturing Growth in Africa’, it highlighted opportunities and challenges in intra-Africa trade and industry growth.

Advisory firm Uzenzele Holdings executive director Nadia Rawjee, sharing her key takeaways,

highlights that only 17% of the continent’s trade is within its borders which is a “striking statistic”, indicating the potential for growth in intra-Africa trade.

“This offers a colossal opportunity to leverage regional collaborations, diminishing external market dependencies,” she says.

Through promoting local industries and championing economic integration, African countries can create resilient, diversified economies as well as generate local employment, tapping into the wealth of resources and skills within its boundaries, says Rawjee.

She asserts that one of Africa’s most formidable assets is its youthful, burgeoning population.

 

“As global industrial trends evolve, Africa’s labour force is poised to make a significant mark on the world stage,” Rawjee says.

A critical area of opportunity lies in the realm of healthcare. With an astonishing 86% of medications and nearly all vaccines imported, there is an exigent call for local production.

Rawjee explains that bolstering domestic manufacturing can address supply chain vulnerabilities, create employment and invigorate the economy. Further, it equips Africa with the agility to respond during health crises, tailoring solutions to local needs. This approach sets the stage for Africa to become a formidable player in the global pharmaceuticals sector.

She also highlights Africa’s growing repair economy, which showcases the continent’s commitment to the circular economy.

“Prioritising repair over replacement not only extends the lifespan of products but also fosters job creation and entrepreneurship. This sustainable approach has the potential to amplify Africa’s gross domestic product by an additional 3%,” she adds.


However, Rawjee notes that various challenges persist. In particular, a consistent theme echoed in many sessions at the Indaba was the intricate web of logistical constraints impeding intra-Africa trade.

These constraints range from divergent customs regulations to infrastructure deficits and security apprehensions compound, which result in escalating costs and trade uncertainties.

The absence of standardisation impedes trade, fosters product inconsistencies, and stifles integration initiatives, Rawjee notes. Therefore, a unified standard is imperative for fostering regional collaboration, ensuring safety and solidifying economic harmony.

While Africa stands “on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance”, the path is punctuated with both immense opportunities and significant challenges. Navigating this complex landscape requires collaboration, innovation and determination, she says.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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