TheAfricanDream.net was at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) webinar organized on August 19, 2020, under the theme: “Africa Must Industrialize Now — The Urgency for Value Addition to African Products” that was held via zoom. The event was moderated by Emmanuel Bensah Deputy Executive Director of AfCFTA Policy Network while Rongai Chizema, Chief Technical Advisor and Head of AIDA Implementation & Coordination Unit in the Department of Trade & Industry of the Africa Union Commission commenced it.
Participants that joined the online event included Dr. Thomas Mensah, Founder at Silicon Valley of Ghana; Professor Jean Bosco Byiringiro, Associate Professor and Director of Siemens Mechatronics Certification Centre and Visiting Researcher at University Bourgogne Franche Comte; Dr. Alexander Anim-Mensah, an Engineering Manager at ITW and President of i2iMegaHub (NGO); Yaliwe Soko of South Africa Ecosystem Lead at cLabs, Chairwoman of the United Africa Blockchain Association and founder of Essence Consultants; Alvin Alexander, System Engineer and Founder at Orion Applied Science & Technology OrionAST; Dr. Lonnie G. Johnson, President & CEO of Johnson Research and Development Co. Inc., and Harriet Chimezie a Senior Environmental Engineer at Volta Group United States (US) and Green Earth Consulting-Africa.
All the presenters shared great thoughts on respective subjects pointing to the need for Africa to industrialize and add value to her products so as not to just become a consumer of Western products and ideas refined by materials from Africa. Dr. Thomas Mensah a Ghanaian-American Industry leader, inventor, and entrepreneur touched on resources and infrastructure. He focused on the need for Africa to pursue steel production and transportation, stressing that “this will give Africa financial freedom, and when we add high-speed trains that could move people around Africa in a much shorter time to promote industrialization.“
Professor Jean Bosco Byiringiro touched on how investing in Africa innovation was necessary to support more African products and shared some electronic equipment his research center was working on with participants. On her part Yaliwe Soko, a self-taught woman from South Africa spoke about blockchain and how important young people of Africa should take advantage of newer technologies to secure themselves jobs anywhere.
Alvin Alexander of OrionAST touched on the use of geospatial technology for the benefits of several industries across Africa such as mining, petroleum, water, and agriculture among others. He focused on how to use the technology to benefit the booming agricultural industry in Africa to maximize outputs by enabling farmers or agriculturists to work smarter by providing information on monitoring weather patterns, hot spots, climate, target specific areas of crops that need attention to significantly enhance their yields, and other avenues to help produce abundant of food.
Harriet Chimezie, Senior Environmental at Volta Group USA, and Green Earth Consulting – Africa touched on how important Africans needed to patronize made in African goods.
In a post-event interview, TheAfricanDream.net reached out to Dr. Alexander Anim-Mensah to gather more of his interesting practical concepts presented which we feel if harnessed could support Africa’s Industrialization strategy. Dr. Anim-Mensah gave a simple definition for Industrialization as “Adding Value”, he added some key requirements for industrialization to include resources, infrastructure, technology, connection, systems, and some soft factors, among others. He then broke down each of the industrialization requirements into their various contributions and related the importance of value, value-adding, value analysis, and value chain management to each of the various requirement’s contributions to industrialization.
“As I said in my presentation, to sustain industrialization, we must adhere to the concept of value being equal to the benefit minus the cost (Value = Benefit – Cost) by dwelling on value-adding and lowering cost. This is a prime factor necessary to stay competitive from a pricing standpoint apart from finding the right customers, suppliers, and what customers’ mostly need,” Dr. Anim-Mensah explained.
He additionally defined an idea as the smallest unit of an industry where screening and harnessing viable ideas original to a specific African country or location and growing them into an industry is necessary to position countries competitively. He added that “these are the first principles to generating businesses and cost less. From this point, people could be enticed to do more if the finances, know-how, policies, and systems are available to support them. But first — start with the idea, develop it well and be ready to reasonably defend it to a potential financier for instance…“
Dr. Anim-Mensah also told TheAfricanDream.net that Africa has almost everything it needs such as resources, the know-how, and even money which he termed as hardware, however, strong institutions and systems, developing, executing, and managing strategies under progressive leadership to positively tune people attitudes is what was often lacking. “For a hugely diversified continent, our differences as a people must not divide us, but it must continue to keep us united in the sharing of ideas to accelerate the industrialization our children can enjoy and improve upon for our grandchildren. I believe AfCFTA has come to support and promote these efforts and like everyone else here, I too am ready to work towards this reality.“
For industrialization to work the AU needs to have a solid industrialization team to work among themselves to tailor to their needs, strengths, and opportunities for the ultimate benefit of Africa.
Dr. Anim-Mensah is a Ghanaian-American Distinguished Innovator and Inventor, Distinguished Patent Award Winner, a 2019 Fellow National Academy of Inventor Nominee, an industrialist with a background in Chemical Engineering, Strategy and Technology, Operation & Value Chain Management. Contact TheAfricanDream.net to directly connect with him or find him on LinkedIn.
Also visit au.int/en/ti/cfta/about to learn more about AfCFTA, the largest free-trade area in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization. The Secretariat of AFCFTA is located in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Written by Oral Ofori