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Manufacturing in Sub-Saharan Africa: Deindustrialisation or a Renaissance?

Francois Steenkamp, Haroon Bhorat, Zaakhir Asmal and Christopher Rooney ()
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Christopher Rooney: Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town

Working Papers from University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit

Abstract: Past empirical evidence suggests that industrialisation is key to a country’s development trajectory. In SubSaharan Africa (SSA) a narrative has emerged that suggests the region has experienced premature deindustrialization (Rodrik, 2016). However, this narrative has been challenged in recent studies by Kruse, Mensah, Sen & de Vries (2022) and Nguimkeu & Zeufack (2019) who find evidence of a manufacturing renaissance in SSA. The comparability of these conflicting studies is limited due to differing country samples, estimation techniques, econometric specifications and time periods. In this study, we reconcile these conflicting results by using a common dataset over a defined period, 1990-2018, using two estimators and model specifications applied in the literature, to allow us to test whether the premature deindustrialization thesis is model dependent and time-specific. Our study finds that SSA’s manufacturing sector has experienced deindustrialisation, or at best remained stagnant, over the 2000s aand 2010s – thus confirming the more pessimistic Rodrik (2016) view of premature deindustrialisation in SSA. The implications of our results suggest that SSA countries may be required to seek alternative growth pathways to structurally transform their economies. More generally, our findings suggest that replicating the industrialisation experience of other regions is difficult. Not only is a detailed understanding of the factors which led to regions industrialising required, but a coherent implementation of policies for countries trying to replicate that success is necessary as well.

Keywords: Industrialisation; Manufacturing; Structural change; Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L16 N17 N67 O14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 41 pages
Date: 2023-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr and nep-dev
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Published in Working Paper Series by the Development Policy Research Unit, April 2023, pages 1-41

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