Sub-Saharan Africa's Manufacturing Sector: Building Complexity

48 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2017

See all articles by H. Bhorat

H. Bhorat

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Development Policy Research Unit

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Christopher Rooney

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Development Policy Research Unit

François Steenkamp

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Development Policy Research Unit

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

As Africa's working age population continues to grow rapidly, the region needs to experience both economic growth and high levels of job creation before it can realize the demographic dividend. This paper uses economic complexity analytics to provide product-level insights into sub-Saharan Africa's development path in comparison with that of the Eastern and Southern Asian regions. Specific emphasis is placed on the evolution of the manufacturing sector within these regions. The analysis from this study shows a sub-Saharan African (SSA) productive structure that is disconnected and characterized by products with low levels of economic complexity. The study further shows that the productive structure in SSA is inherently characterized by lower levels of economic complexity, which informed the notion of limited productive capabilities. This stands in contrast to the East and South Asian productive structure, which is connected and complex. This result implies that while the sheer scale and diversity of the manufacturing sector in Asia allows for the generation of a large number and diversity of employment opportunities that of the African manufacturing sector is marginal in nature and points to limited employment opportunities.

Keywords: Manufacturing sector; economic complexity; employment opportunities, sub-Saharan Africa.

JEL Classification: J01, L60, N67

Suggested Citation

Bhorat, Haroon I. and Kanbur, Ravi and Rooney, Christopher and Steenkamp, François, Sub-Saharan Africa's Manufacturing Sector: Building Complexity (June 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12073. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2980833

Haroon I. Bhorat (Contact Author)

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Development Policy Research Unit ( email )

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Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Christopher Rooney

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Development Policy Research Unit ( email )

Private Bag
Rondesbosch, 7700
South Africa

François Steenkamp

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Development Policy Research Unit ( email )

Private Bag
Rondesbosch, 7700
South Africa

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