Sub-Saharan African countries are eyeing Chinese investment and technical transfer to revive their manufacturing sectors whose growth has been hobbled by funding and manpower hiccups, officials said on Thursday.
The officials, who spoke at a roundtable on investment promotions held on the sidelines of China-Africa Industrial Capacity Cooperation Expo underway in Nairobi, said Chinese capital, knowhow and experience should be tapped to create vibrant manufacturing hubs in the world's second largest continent.
Aschalew Tadesse, Investment Promotion Team Leader of Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), said China has occupied a strategic position as African countries embark on industrial revival.
"Chinese investors are welcome in our countries to participate in the establishment of industrial parks that are expected to churn out jobs and process goods for exports," Tadesse said.
The China-Africa Development Fund, International Trade Centre (ITC) and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) organized the roundtable to discuss opportunities in Africa's manufacturing sector.
Tadesse said the African continent could be the next frontier for industrial revival given the commitment of political leaders coupled with demographic dividend and vast natural wealth.
"There is a strong impetus in this region and the entire continent to establish a strong manufacturing sector that can harness raw material and skilled labor from within to boost volume of exported goods," said Tadesse.
He stressed that favorable policies, tax incentives and availability of skilled manpower will be key to attract Chinese investments in the industrial sectors across sub-Saharan Africa.
Jiang Xuejun, Chief Office for Asia and the Pacific, International Trade Centre, called for African countries to create favorable conditions to facilitate Chinese investments in the manufacturing sector.
"Besides exchanging knowhow and expertise, African countries and China should maximize on direct investments in the industrial parks that can unlock benefits on both sides," Jiang said.
Chisanga Pule, Investments Promotion Officer at Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), said that Chinese technology and capital will be key to unlock the potential of Africa's emerging sectors like mining, agro-processing, information technology and aerospace.
"We should showcase the new investment opportunities in our manufacturing sectors to Chinese policymakers and fund managers," said Pule.
But there should be incentives in place to encourage Chinese investors to venture into light industries the continent requires to leap frog, he added.