Remarks by Angel Gurría,
Taormina, 27 May 2017
(As prepared for delivery)
At the request of the Italian G7 Presidency, we produced a new report on the “Next Production Revolution”, that is, the confluence of digital technologies, biotechnology, new materials and new processes which will have far-reaching consequences for productivity, jobs, skills, the environment - our lives in general.
What will innovation and technological change mean for Africa’s future growth?
Our latest figures, published in the just-released AfDB-OECD-UNDP African Economic Outlook, project growth at 3.4% in 2017, up from 2.2% in 2016. 60% of this year’s growth in Africa is driven by endogenous sources. Economies are also diversifying away from the extractive sector. But growth remains below the 5% performance observed during the first decade of the 2000s.
The economies of the continent need to harness the growth and productivity potential stemming from innovation and from the technological revolution in the making. And to help raise labour productivity, which remains way below the level of more advanced economies. OECD countries invest 2.3% of their GDP in R&D, in most emerging and developing economies, this is below 1.
Innovation is at the heart of entrepreneurship and industrialisation. Thus, the NPR will be key to tackling Africa’s biggest challenge: creating 29 million new jobs per year until 2050 for its young population.
The continent has shown it can rapidly adopt new technologies. At the turn of the century, for every 100 people in Sub-Saharan countries, only 2 had a mobile subscription. As of 2015, more than 75% of the population had access to this technology. Meanwhile mobile broadband went from less than 2% in 2010 to just under 20% in 2015.
But to make the most out of the innovations, a number of conditions need to be in place:
We must encourage economic growth that creates opportunities for all segments of society and distributes the dividends widely. In other words: inclusive growth. Innovation and the Next Production Revolution can be forces for stronger, greener and more inclusive growth in Africa.
The OECD believes Africa can be a powerful engine of growth. For this reason we are scaling up our engagement with Africa. We stand ready to work with you and for you to help Africa harness innovation for inclusive growth and prosperity.