African Economic Outlook: Global Value Chains and Africa’s Industrialisation

Image: Getty, Photographer is my life.
Image: Getty, Photographer is my life.


Qualitative analysis of multiple data sources such as national statistics offices, ministries, multilateral development institutions, investors, civil society and the media.

Research Objective

To analyse the current state of social and economic development in Africa, with a particular focus on GVCs.


  • Lesotho, the Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are in the global top 30 in terms of GVC participation
  • SA producers selling goods to African supermarkets that pay lower prices than European ones can often make up for these costs due to less stringent standards in Africa
  • Contains individual country reports detailing their progress in GVC integration

Policy Recommendations

  • Government policies must be VC specific rather than a single policy for all VCs
  • Must manage trade-offs between promoting mere VC integration at the expense of upgrading, and conversely, upgrading which deters foreign firms from entering and forming VCs at all
  • Public and private sector linkages key for VCs, public sector must support the country’s entrepreneurial base
  • Important to recognise management structure of VCs (e.g. Producer driven chains such as cocoa are more difficult to upgrade in value, rather focus on product differentiation)
  • Governments in Africa need to attract lead firms to GVCs but must also focus on creating skills and capacity to upgrade and link to the rest of the local economy
  • Service VC’s allow opportunities for easier upgrading and important support for GVCs in Africa
2 Jun 2016