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Meet Africa’s Newest Economic Superpower For Sustainable Manufacturing Growth

By Claire Obae

  • The next decade in Africa will require at least 18 million new jobs per year to keep up with the growing population demands
  • Africa’s workforce next generation will have to be accustomed to working in a 24/7 environment to keep up with demand

Africa’s population currently stands at approximately 1.5 billion and this is expected to double by 2050. As the baby boomers continue to retire over the next decade, they’ll be replaced by an equally large group of young people who are just below 15, and will constitute at least 40% of the overall population. The next decade in Africa will require at least 18 million new jobs per year to keep up with the growing population demands as manufacturing takes center stage.

Why This Matters: Africa is often perceived as a continent of raw materials but with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. On the surface, it offers a lot of things to a manufacturer. However, there are also some significant challenges that must be overcome in order for manufacturing businesses to prosper in Africa. 

Labor costs are rising rapidly, Africa’s infrastructure is still not up to par with many other parts of the world, and the high tariffs on imports. For instance, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, boasting 12% of the global working-age population but only returns a measly 2% of the global capital stock.

That’s why Africa is generating only 3 million formal jobs annually. As a continent with abundant natural resources and a young, growing population, this presents an opportunity to leverage its abundance of labor and resources to create high-quality jobs and build a competitive manufacturing base.

Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel as manufacturing can contribute up to 20% of the GDP by 2030 if countries use their natural resources more efficiently through value addition. These factors make Sub-Saharan Africa ripe for growth in manufacturing industries that can help drive sustainable development and provide jobs for its rapidly growing population.

Situational Awareness: Manufacturing is a huge opportunity for Africa but it needs to be done right. That means focusing on high-value manufacturing, which can compete in global markets with some strategic investments. 

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