African governments are urged to create the right environment for the private sector to lead the continent’s industrial revolution – and they could learn some valuable lessons from Korea.

Participants in the 53rd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank in Korea also advocated for a balance between the role of the state and the private sector.

Korea was presented as a good model for industrialization which African countries can learn from.

“Korea’s example is incredible. Korea was as poor as any African country in the 1960s with a low per capital income. Today, thanks to the determination of its people and its commitment to industrialization, Korea is the 11th biggest economy in the world, an example Africa should learn from,” says African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina.

“If you look at countries that have industrialized – China, South Korea, Singapore and many others – the role of the state was clear. One of the things that I think we need to take out of this conversation is that the State has a great role to play in Africa’s industrial revolution, particularly in terms of industrial policy, providing direction, support for infrastructure, and directing capital to particular industries,” he says. “Ethiopia is a very good example.”

Adesina explains that industrialisation was selected as the theme of the 2018 Annual Meetings to further showcase what Africa can learn from a country like Korea.

“There is nowhere better than Korea to address this theme. Korea’s incredible success over the last 60 years provides a perfect model to the African Development Bank to redouble its efforts towards Africa’s economic development. Africa is a tremendously blessed continent, but it needs to industrialize, create lots of jobs, and be more competitive in the global market.”

For Africa to witness true agricultural transformation, technologies need to reach farmers to enhance productivity. This was the message of the Leadership4Agriculture Forum, held on Day 1 of the meetings.

“We cannot say we have leadership when we still have 65% of the land in Africa uncultivated. We must develop solutions to agriculture and ensure that the sector can grow to a $1-trillion business,” Adesina says.