Industrial Manifesto for Africa

Guest Columnist: Issa Aremu


Last Monday was the Africa Industrialization Day declared by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). It provided an annual platform for Governments, businesses and organised labour linked to industrial development to examine ways and means to stimulate Africa industrialization process. Given the impact on national development, employment, climate and living standard of the citizens, industrialisation and industrial policies are too important to be left to governments and businesses alone.

Industrial global union organises 50 million manufacturing workers along the global value chains in 140 countries including Africa in over 650 trade unions. The global union has over a million members in Africa including six sectors in Nigeria, namely textile, petroleum and gas, automobile, mines and solid minerals, energy and chemical and allied products. Sustainable industrial policy is one of the five critical success goals of our global union. The global union has resolved to constructively engage with African governments, businesses, investors and employers as well as development institutions Central banks, BOI, UNIDO on all issues aimed at promoting industrialization and beneficiation in Africa.

Industry is a key driver of sustainable jobs and development for national economies and the foundation of good living standards. It does not matter whether it is first industrial revolution, (Industry 1.0), Second Industrial Revolution (2.0) Third Industrial Revolution (Industry 3.0) or the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), Africans must make what we wear (gold, rings and necklaces, clothes and textile), what we ride, (automobiles), the fuel in our cars (petroleum products) what we build with (iron and steel), soaps we bath with (chemicals and allied products) and generate energy we consume.

Africa must stop exporting raw cottons, crude oil, mineral resources, gold and diamond only to be importing finished goods from China, Europe and America. Either large small or medium scale enterprises, Africa must consume products it produces scale down or halt wholesale importation or smuggling as it is the case in Nigeria. United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has over the years shown that manufacturing industry in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) lags behind other developing regions of the world.

There are three leading economies in Africa namely Nigeria which is worth some $406 billion, Egypt $332.3 billion and South Africa $294.1billion. Nigeria only leads in quantity GDP not quality in terms of manufacturing value added. Indeed South Africa at 25% is the highest, followed by Egypt at 20% and Nigeria with less than 5%. Ghana is even more industrialized at 6% manufacturing value added (MVA). In 2015 Africa had a population of 1.2 billion. Millions of youths join the labour market annually without jobs making them voluntary slaves to Europe and America after three hundreds their forefathers gallantly fought against forced slavery by human predators in Europe and America. The cause of serial deaths on the Mediterranean Sea is wholesale de-industrialization of Africa.

Only industry can provide sustainable jobs and living wages and necessary revenues for government to provide the needed infrastructure for development. For Africa to meet Sustainable Development Goal 2030, especially SDG 9 dealing with industry and innovation Africa the continent must innovate and industrialise. Africa must copy China’s industrialization drive which has within 20 years moved over 250 million people out of poverty through manufacturing and industrialisation.

Africa must make what it consumes; otherwise the rest of the world will consume it. Many African countries have commendably put in place robust documents and policies on industrialization and diversification, but capacity utilisation is still very low with few existing industries closing down with mass job losses. It’s time South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana! Zimbabwe, Sudan walked/worked the policies and added value to the continent’s abundant raw materials. I acknowledge and commend the Federal Government of Nigeria for launching the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). Together with the existing National Industrial Revolution Plan, the Plan can promote revival of industries and creation of mass decent jobs. But it must be within an overall vision for development not just feverish “diversification Plan’ on the heel of defending collapse of crude oil prices.

A number of commendable initiatives by African governments in promoting wealth generation and reviving the industry include Buy-Africa campaign in South Africa and Buy Made-in-Nigeria campaign. Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo has signed three unprecedented Executive Orders mandating government agencies to spend more of their budgets on locally produced goods and services. These orders would help in the recovery of many factories in Nigeria, if pressures for smuggling and imports do not undermine them. There are also some commendable sub-national initiatives such as the industrial parks of Ethiopia and Nigeria’s Edo state under Governor Godwin Obaseki. There certainly cannot be industrialisation without electrification.

Nigeria must stop any action plan that will further give scarce public monies to non-performing privatised electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria. African governments must massively invest in energy mix of hydro, solar and nuclear to drive industrialisation. It is remarkable that ERGP sets the target of reducing petroleum products imports in Nigeria by 80 per cent in 2018. That’s the way to create jobs, decent and sustainable jobs in the petroleum sector. With smart manufacturing or the so-called fourth industrial revolution, Africa has all the options to further add value to raw materials in place of extractions. But there must be Just Transition such that Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 is sensitive to the much-needed social justice for workers affected by the new technology in production.

The benefits of industrialisation should not be privatised while the costs are socialised. Whatever forms of Industrialisation, (First or fourth industrial revolution) there must be decent sustainable jobs for the workers with job security, living wages and living pensions. Yes, technology makes work easier, but they also could lead to job losses. For they’re to be JUST transition to 4th Industrial revolution, there should be education and re-training for the workers. Employers and governments should not criminalize skill gabs as a result of digitalisations of production. On the contrary, the Fourth Industrial Revolution calls for the need to develop skills and know-how by workers to work with digital technologies.

•Comrade Aremu, mni, is the Vice President of Industrial GLO Union

  • William Norris

    Nov 28 2017

    Innoson Motors Vehicle Releases Luxury IVM G80 and G40 SUV

    GoodNews! The long awaited luxurious Innoson IVM G80 and G40 has been released by Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Co Ltd, Nigeria’s first indigenous Vehicle Manufacturing Company. It should be recalled that last year, The Chairman of Innoson Vehicles, Chief Dr Innocent Chukwuma OFR promised Nigerians that he would manufacture a Made in Nigeria luxurious SUV that will be added to its range of vehicles to accommodate the high cadre of Nigerians who wishes to drive a Made-in-Nigeria vehicle. The date for the official Vehicle Launch will be announced soon.

    Also released is G20, a 7 seater sedan and INNOSON IVM GRANITE (5 SEATER DOUBLE CABIN PICK-UP) 2018 MODEL. The IVM Granite comes in 3 variance which includes; 2WD, 2.7 Petrol; 4WD 2.7 Petrol; 4WD 2.4 Diesel.

    For enquiries on Innoson Vehicles call Kosy on 08030889955 or send mail to
    Wow, I thought lack of electricity and other infrastructure make it impossible ton produce in Nigeria?

    If the naira is floated and goes to 1,000/$ which one will get higher patronage…..

    1. Used 2nd hand Toyota Highlander imported from USA

    2. Innoson vehicles made in Nigeria?


    Nigerians need to get educated! It’s not always about big degrees and fighting corruption and lack of power…I mean electricity!

    • austin

      IVM may likely also bow to the exchange rate effect because most of it is imported.

      • William Norris

        Vehicles assembled in Nigeria will still be cheaper than those assembled abroad. A devalued naira wii enhance their price appeal in the EXPORT market outside Nigeria.

        A lot of those Made in Asia clothing is composed of USA fabric.

        Most Asian workers can’t afford most of what they make and export to the West.

  • FrNinja

    If Nigeria wants an industrial transformation you need power and you need a functional industrial policy. I would start with banning rubbish like used clothes, used shoes from entering the country and put a tariff on Chinese imports. Let tailors and shoe makers make clothes and shoes and it would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    • William Norris

      If you put a tariff on imports OR ban them, business men will find a way to smuggle them in as long as there are consumers who demand for it. As of now, TODAY, it is overall cheaper for an average citizen to buy imported clothes than patronize locally made attires. Google up the story of the Nigerian clothing manufacturer Ruff n Tumble or enter any market in a Nigerian city and do a survey.

      This is REAL LIFE, where HUMANS have to make everyday decisions without first consulting Aso Rock.

      A high tariff policy or ban on any imported item only creates rampant CORRUPTION as Customs Officers take bribes to allow smuggling.

      Right now Nigeria has plenty of imported rice. I eat it every day.

      The mighty government of the USA has not been able to stop the importation of illegal narcotics despite 40 years of a War on Drugs.

      Illegal immigrants still get across the US border every day.

      What makes you think the Government of NIGERIA can stop smuggling? NIGERIA??? Come on man!


      The simple, efficient, fair and generally beneficial way to curtail importation or make it a growth factor for the economy is to FLOAT THE NAIRA.

      If the naira crashes to 1,000/$, you can be sure the importation of used clothing will decrease drastically.

      The fall in value of the naira has reduced imports in the past 2 years….I know several middle class people who cancelled plans to import cars and postpones holiday trips abroad due to the fall in value of naira. That’s how markets work.

      Have a good day.

      • FrNinja

        China became a manufacturing powerhouse because of government not despite it. The undervaluation (not devaluation) of their currency was just one tool to make their products more attractive. However like I said elsewhere effective industrialization requires more than prices. It requires a government committed to investing in it. The Chinese government apart from their world class basic education, spends more than 5 times on infrastructure as India and it shows in the difference between who gets manufacturing jobs. The Chinese government runs ports, power, roads, rail effectively. Go and look at the cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai. Do you see container shops, keke napep and okada as is the case in India and Nigeria? The Chinese government control their development like all the great nations of the world – USA, France,UK, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

        • William Norris

          That’s a valid comment. But you DODGED…Nigeria already bans or has high tariff on rice, so how come I eat imported rice in my own home? LOL

          At the very least we can agree that development is a COMPLEX soup with many ingredients. Let’s also note that

          1. China has a dominant tribe, the Han. So there is a cohesive sense of purpose, like a family.

          2. China engaged in bloody wars to free itself from British and Western domination. Shell and Exxon Mobil don’t have the kind of privileges in China that they have in Nigeria.

          3. China is a DICTATORSHIP. That is a crucial difference with my dear India. I trust you know what CAN happen in China that is impossible in India. Personally, I strongly prefer democracy.

          Are you RELIGIOUS? I’ll leave that to you and your God or gods, but you surely know that angels die hard in China 😈

          4. You noted CURRENCY values as a factor. You call it undervaluation and that’s fine.

          It’s IMPOSSIBLE, in my view, to find in NIGERIA, any of the above listed ingredients for national purpose driven development.

          Nigerians, including YOU, will violently Occupy Nigeria if the government ever adopted a weak naira policy. Such a policy would also lead to LOWER INTEREST RATES, by the way….it seems the majority of Nigerians don’t care about that.

          Floating – not devaluing- that naira would also reduce CORRUPTION that enables people to make billions via CBN connections while sitting in their garden.

          A star ingredient for last, a matter of taste. The complete dictatorial power of the Chinese government has caused MASSIVE CORRUPTION on a scale that’s UNIMAGINABLE in Nigeria.

          Are you willing to tolerate that level of corruption?

          Though Nigerians like corruption, but China is on another level of impunity altogether.

          So there it is. In all that list, the ONE I think can be conveniently And practically APPLIED in Nigeria AT PRESENT is undervaluation of the naira, but I would PREFER a FLOAT, just let freedom ring and let the naira find its own value in the market.


  • Orphic

    I was wondering where the writer was going until he descended into praise singing and sycophancy, then I realised this was one of those Nigerian tricks of subverting and wearing the cloak of enlightened economic advocacy in order to gain favours from political masters.

  • Mystic mallam

    Comrade Aremu is preaching to the clueless. The ERGP is a typical knee-jerk response to falling oil prices. The administration’s confusion about what to do with it is clear in its gravitation to Malaysia to – wait for it – contract experts to implement the ERGP!!! Now that oil price is going up again, who hears much of economic diversification? All that talk is now being replaced with raising the minimum wage and similar approaching-election promises. To revive and sustain an industrial economy, policy revision must start with the fundamentals – sound education, quality healthcare, reliable power supply, solid transport infrastructure, and in Nigeria’s particular case, we can do with much less of elite and leadership obsession with crude oil. I am yet to see any sustainable convergence of fiscal policy and work program to improve on these foundation needs. So talk of deepening industrialisation and economic diversification will remain just talk until Africans realise that they must depend on themselves, and not on China, India, Malaysia, Turkey, America or Europe, to achieve sustainable growth and development.

    • Iskacountryman

      only in nigeria would a[n] union leader advocate for industrial capitalism…

      • Mystic mallam

        Woww Iska, you’ve made sense!!!

        • Iskacountryman

          once in a while…i surprise even myself…i wont make that a habit…i promise…

          • Mystic mallam

            You’re my guy Iska, don’t make a habit of making sense.

          • Iskacountryman

            sense could be dangerous to your health…trust me…

          • Mystic mallam

            You’d think I don’t know what you mean, I do. In a land where Zombies are kings, what purpose could sense possibly serve?

          • Iskacountryman

            i refuse to answer..

          • Mystic mallam

            Iska, you have mystic…