Africa is exporting its jobs instead of creating them: UN official

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Carlos Lopes. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Despite its economic growth, Africa is not using its commodities to create jobs, according to a senior United Nations official.

Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa spoke at the launch of the 2014 Economic Report on Africa which is focusing on industrialization.

He said efforts to embark on industrialization on the continent faced problems in the 1970s for various reasons including too much state intervention and the oil crisis of 1972.

Mr Lopes said Africa is regressing in its manufacturing sector because it continues to export commodities instead of processing them and adding value before they are exported.

"Africa has a controlling stake on a number of commodities, so we have the opportunities to better negotiate those commodities. We know that mispricing is depriving Africa of about $50 billion a year and mispricing is just one element of bad equation. Another one is the lack of value-addition on our commodities. And all of those resources basically are, in very concrete terms, signifying that Africa is exporting its jobs instead of creating them. Because the value addition is taking place somewhere else, we are exporting the jobs."

Mr. Lopes said Africa needs what he called an "organic" proposal for industrialization that is truly embedded in the realities of the continent and not a "pure imitation" of what other regions have done.

He also noted that as a later-comer in industrialization, Africa is confronted with the worst global environment where there is no level playing field.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.

Duration: 1’51″

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