Busan, South Korea- Uganda must prioritise industrialisation if it is to expand the economy and create enough jobs for the rapidly growing population, Finance minister Matia Kasaija, has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 53rd edition of the African Development Bank (AfDB) meeting in Busan, South Korean, Mr Kasaija said one of government’s top priorities was to industrialise and to encourage youth innovation in order to curb the rapidly growing rate of youth unemployment.

“Youth unemployment can be tackled through encouraging innovation because societies that have developed have taken innovation [as a cornerstone of their economies],” he said.

Uganda, according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, has a youth unemployment rate of more than 80 per cent. Similarly, industrial growth has been slow growing at an average of 3 per cent in the last decade.

Leverage on resources
Mr Akinwumi Adesina, the AfDB president, said Africa must leverage on the availability of cheap labour, natural gas and minerals to push industrialisation of the continent to match population growth.

“Africa exports raw commodities. Things needs to change,” he said during a media briefing.
Founded in 1964, AfDB has been a key development partner for the African continent with focus on fighting poverty and improve livelihoods on the African continent.

Mr Kasaija said innovation will spur development and countries such as South Korea have used this model to reach where they are.

“Every day, there is something new they discover, innovate or modify. This [innovation] is the way forward. We don’t have the money we need but we are definitely trying. If you don’t innovate, you are as good as dead,” he said.
The meeting also discussed how Africa can ‘bridge innovation and industry’ putting youth at the centre of solving continental challenges.

Mr Adesina told journalists that AfDB has choosen to host its meeting in South Korea because the country is an active member the continental bank, which has a membership of 80 countries, 54 of which are African countries and 26 non-African.

Benchmarking industrialisation
Meeting outside Africa. This is the second time the meeting is held outside Africa. Last year the meeting was held in India which Mr Adesina said is a model country when it comes to feeding its population.

“Korea was as poor as any African country in the 1960s. Today, it has a per capita income of $25,000 (Shs89 million). South Korea is a great example of what happens when a country industrialises,” he said.
African leaders are expected to discuss the continent’s future that will be bench marked on industrialisation as a key development driver.