Rising Asia Wages May Boost Sub-Saharan Manufacturing, IMF Says

Sub-Saharan Africa’s low-cost labor and young population give the region growing potential to compete better with Asia as a manufacturing hub and ease poverty, the International Monetary Fund said.

“The challenge for sub-Saharan Africa will be to take full advantage of these developments, which will require investments in both human and physical capital,” the Washington-based lender said in a report released in Tokyo today. “The aim is clear: to harness Africa’s resources to provide high and sustained growth, raise living standards, and create employment opportunities.”

The economy of sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region, will grow 5.7 percent in 2013, the fastest pace after developing nations in Asia, the IMF said in an Oct. 9 report.

The fund said today that because the share of employment in agriculture is high in most sub-Saharan Africa economies and productivity levels are low, there’s an opportunity to raise living standards through productivity improvements.

“If there is to be significant structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa, the employment share of agriculture will almost certainly decline,” the IMF said. “The challenge here is to raise education standards and narrow the infrastructure gap to levels at which the region can compete for higher value- added services.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at mheath1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

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