It is a common mistake to make to think that developing countries will go through a similar evolution to that experienced by the now developed countries. This is naive thinking. The industrial revolution started in England in the late Eighteenth Century. It was focused around steam power, coal and the ability to trade with a huge Empire at very profitable rates.
Now all countries have access to the combustion engine, to fossil fuel generated electricity. Several, to the chagrin of the West, have even managed to make foryas into nuclear power. Moreover, the West is no longer the factory of the world. This dubious accolade belongs to Asia, and primarily to China.
Manufactuiring is at the heart of a strong economy but this must be balanced by the need to better husband natural resources, prevent environmental deterioration and to plan for a future where water, oil, coal, metal ores, minerals, wood and food will be the most precious commodities.
This is the great irony for Africa is rich in natural resources, and yet remains very poor in terms of GDP. Africa’s natural resources are being exchanged for expensive manufactured and designed products from abroad – cars, planes, weapons, infrastructure projects and the like.
The solution is for Africa to redress this post-colonial imbalance. It must manufacture its own cars, set up its own IT services, form its own companies to make precision tooling equipment, to make electrical goods, to create aerospace parts etc. Naturally, outside know-how is necessary but the interference from outside corporate elements must be reduced as much as possible over a planned time table. This is about economic sustainability. Africa has the resources, it just needs to better use these resources. Africa used to be the richest continent in the world. It can be a real challenger for that mantle again with the correct macro management.