| Exporting Africa: technology, trade and industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa |
|Part I. Exporting Africa: an analysis|
The future of traditional exports is rather bleak, considering the low income elasticities of demand associated with these products. The fact that the production of most traditional exports is associated with relatively limited technological dynamism raises doubts about their relevance for technological development in developing countries. Restructuring on the supply side needs to address the question of developing more technologically dynamic export sectors in these countries.
The main objective of this study is to understand more deeply the process of supply side restructuring and to examine the opportunities and feasible options for developing technologically dynamic and internationally competitive export industries in Africa in the context of the rapidly changing technological and world market conditions. This book will examine the process of building up and maintaining the capabilities which are necessary for maintaining competitiveness in export markets. The study examines such capabilities at firm, industry and national levels in selected countries in Africa. Since it is firms and not nations which compete on international markets, the analysis will focus on the firm level, emphasizing the process through which firms create and augment those capabilities which are necessary for acquiring and maintaining regional and/or international competitiveness over time in the context of internal and external influences (e.g. from factor markets, product markets, government interventions and institutions and policy remedies for market failures). In spite of this emphasis, the interdependence between the different levels is recognized and will be retained in the analysis.
The focus of the study is on exporting manufacturing firms, identifying and analysing the processes by which these firms have been maintaining or losing their competitiveness in international and/or regional markets. This is done by studying the capabilities of selected exporting firms with a view to understanding the process by which the creation and development of these capabilities has been promoted or inhibited over time by factors either internal or external to the firms. In this context, three main questions are addressed:
1 What factors and processes have influenced the paths which various firms have followed in attaining or losing regional and/or international competitiveness?
2 How have exporting firms been coping (or failing to cope) with changing technological and market conditions?
3 What lessons and policy implications can be drawn from the manner in which exporting firms have been maintaining (or losing) competitiveness in export markets and how have they been coping (or failing to cope) with changing technological and market conditions?