This is according to NEPAD agency chief executive, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, who added that agricultural transformation is also critical to this process.
“The main challenge for all political leaders on this continent, in the next 20 years, will be how to create jobs for the youth. The stability of the continent will be linked to that – this is why industrialisation is absolutely important,” he told a delegation at the inaugural Women in Energy (WIE) conference.
“It’s only through industrialisation that we’ll be able to create the necessary jobs. For sub-Saharan Africa, industrialisation will come through the transformation of agriculture – we will not reinvent the wheel but [by] how it was done in other continents and it’s a strategy that we cannot avoid.”
Mayaki further stated that an essential trigger to the transformation of agriculture on the continent is the enabling and equipping of women, especially in rural areas.
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“Where do women fit in here? The problem we are faced with is that, in most of our countries, everything is a priority. Health, education, climate change is a priority so for policy makers, the design of public policy is always a challenge in terms of allocating resources,” he explained.
“The way you deal with it is to have essential triggers – 70 per cent of our population on the continent live in rural areas. The majority of that population is women so the trigger for agricultural transformation will have to be focused on the empowerment of women.”
The WIE conference, which is currently being held at the Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa, aims to focus on how various departments within companies can advance their competitive advantage by hiring and developing women in energy, as well as in other industry sectors.
According to Mayaki, the empowerment of women in the area of agriculture would also mean increasing their management capabilities as well as their capabilities in terms of financial resources.
“In order to facilitate agricultural transformation, a key ingredient is energy – without energy, you cannot increase agricultural productivity. Agricultural transformation will be key for industrialisation, and industrialisation will be key for political stability and governance,” he stated.
“In terms of triggers, we know that energy is the sector which has the most important transformational effect in terms of development. You have these two triggers – energy and women, which become key referent factors for the design of a public policy.”