Consensus reached on actions for sustainable industrialization in Central Africa


The 33rd meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Central Africa (ICE2017) has ended in Douala with calls for the adoption of well-targeted and sequenced counter-cyclical measures as a means to promoting resources-driven and trade-induced Industrialisation in Central Africa.

In a document dubbed, “Douala Consensus” – issued at the end of the four-day deliberations – policymakers, industry captains and other stakeholders made the case for a paradigm shift “from a resources for infrastructure model to a resources for Industrialisation (R4Id) model.”

The document notes the imperative to promote the “made in Central Africa” label; establish industrial zones and growth poles; accelerate the implementation of the AU’s Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) programme; focus on the subregion’s rich natural resources as basis for its industrialization; and re-enforce inter-sectoral coordination and public-private dialogue.

Addressing a press conference at the end of ICE2017, which took place from 26 -29 September in Douala under the theme, “Made in Central Africa: from a vicious to a virtuous circle,” Antonio Pedro, Director of the Economic Commission for Africa’s Subregional Office for Central African (ECA/SRO-CA), said agribusiness is an important avenue through which food security and structural transformation can be ensured.

“If we modernize the agricultural sector then labour resources can be available for the manufacturing sector, which has been identified as the sector that can free the region from the vulnerabilities it currently suffers. The manufacturing sector generates more jobs,” said Mr. Pedro, adding, “We’ve clearly identified that in order for us to promote job creation there’s need to ensure that small and medium enterprises are linked with global and regional value chains.”

With the “Douala Consensus” in place, journalists quizzed Antonio Pedro on the issue of implementation, which some said is more important than merely having a consensus.

In response, Mr. Pedro said, “I am confident that action will be taken because failure to do so will put this region in continuous sequences of economic instabilities. It’s important to industrialize and we have a consensus that captures that necessity.”

The ECA official added that “the responsibility to implement this consensus rests both with governments, RECs, as well as captains of industry. ECA will also be available to accompany this effort by supporting the region with detailed studies about the challenges and opportunities for resource-driven industrialization.  We will also convene regular meetings of all stakeholders and bring experiences from other parts of the world in order to refine the design of policies in the sub-region.”

The Douala Consensus document states clearly that, “all actions shall be addressed to the decision-making bodies of ECCAS and CEMAC,” and that “a quarterly monitoring of their effective implementation with the support of ECA/SRO-CA is necessary.”

With about 200 participants from all over the Central African subregion, ICE2017 also provided a suitable platform for the launch of ECA’s flagship Economic Report on Africa  (ERA 2017) titled, “Urbanization and Industrialization for Africa’s Transformation.” During the launch, Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha, explained that the report examines how Africa can accelerate industrialization by harnessing opportunities arising from its rapid urbanization.