June 09, 2014
News /
Posted by NCID

Experts from different universities and institutions gathered at the University of Navarra to discuss the future of Africa during the III Annual Development Week, an international congress organized by the Navarra Center for International Development of the Institute for Culture and Society. Lectures throughout the week touched upon issues such as innovation in firms, inclusive growth, health and ethnicity, financial stability, and migration.

Marion Jansen, Chief Economist at the International Trade Centre, was one of these lectures. According to her one of the major barriers in Africa is the lack of information, as part of the market flows.

“In many African countries, especially in the north of Africa, there is a mismatch between the education system and what the labor market demands. Although the investment in education and its level have increased, employers do not find people that match their vacancies,” explained Jansen.

Furthermore Jansen concluded that this phenomenon, otherwise known as the “skills mismatch” causes high levels of unemployment and social tensions. During her presentation, Jansen indicated that in today’s interconnected and globalized world, where there are constant commercial relations and financial flows, it is very important for a country to remain connected. “Data shows that Africa is less connected than Latin America and Asia, and that the African regional integration has advanced less than in other regions.” In order to increase this integration Jansen concluded that it is necessary to lower the barriers so that the benefits of commerce may be able to reach greater numbers and simultaneously spur economic development. Marion explained that there are three fundamental pillars to this philosophy: the upgrading of the industry, the product diversification, and the increase of skills.

What to sell and how to do it

According to Jansen, one of the biggest barriers inhibits Africa from joining the global market flows is the lack of information. “Producers in developing countries frequently do not know what they can sell and how they can do it. That’s why the International Trade Centre works in this matter to provide information to other institutions and organizations which are responsible to make it available to business,” she said. During the 1990 African international trade was focused primarily in Europe, but more recently these trading flows have shifted towards Asia. “In the analysis we also see that many of the African products exported to Asia are commodity products, [while] trading with Europe are more manufactured products,” said Jansen.