[Full Report] Calls for more credible industrial policies from African countries
African countries need to introduce credible industrial policies and promote effective industrial policy organisations to enhance the structural transformation of the continent, says a new report jointly produced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission.
Transforming Africa's industrial landscape has failed partly because countries used industrial blueprints characterised by lack of dynamism and high level coordination, as well as inadequate consultations with stakeholders, according to this year's Economic Report on Africa.
Until now, says the report, an examination of Africa's failure at industrialisation had ignored the policy processes and institutions governing industrial policy in Africa or the impact of their inherent weaknesses on industrialization.
"Indeed, weak institutional structures and poor policy design have been at the root of Africa's industrial policy problem throughout its post-independence history," the report declares.
The theme of this year's report is Dynamic industrial policy in Africa: innovative institutions, effective processes and flexible mechanisms.
While acknowledging Africa's impressive economic growth in the past decade on the back of better commodity prices, improved governance and increasing domestic demand and trade and investment ties with emerging economies, it says that industrialisation is a "precondition for Africa to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth."
Beyond an analysis of the continent's industrialisation problems, and based on the experience of industrialising countries in the global south, the report offers an institutional framework for designing and implementing industrial policy in Africa.
The report recommends that top-level coordination of the industrial policy framework is required to deal with potential problems that could undermine the efficiency of industrial policy.
Making provision for dialogues between public sector and private stakeholders allows governments and the industrial policy organisations to be adaptable to the changing needs of industry, it counsels.
Regarding the provision of modern infrastructure and logistics necessary for industrialisation, the report wants governments with few resources to create "pockets of infrastructure" focused on sectoral or clustering needs of industrial expansion.
It recommends industrial parks as one approach which "provides high potential for growth and value addition as well as for solid linkage development and related spillovers among companies, suppliers and service providers."
The report builds on the previous work of the 2011 edition--on the role of the state in economic transformation--and last year's--on leveraging Africa's comparative advantages in commodities to industrialise.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.