Commodities and Linkages: Industrialisation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Kaplinsky, Raphael; Morris, Adam and Kaplan, David (2011). Commodities and Linkages: Industrialisation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Open University.



In a complementary Discussion Paper (MMCP DP 12 2011) we set out the reasons why we believe that there is extensive scope for linkage development into and out of SSA’s commodities sectors. In this Discussion Paper, we present the findings of our detailed empirical enquiry into the determinants of the breadth and depth of linkages in eight SSA countries (Angola, Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa Tanzania, and Zambia) and six sectors (copper, diamonds, gold, oil and gas, mining services and timber). We conclude from this detailed research that the extent of linkages varies as a consequence of four factors which intrinsically affect their progress – the passage of time, the complexity of the sector and the level of capabilities in the domestic economy. However, beyond this we identify three sets of related factors which determined the nature and pace of linkage development. The first is the structure of ownership, both in lead commodity producing firms and in their suppliers and domestic customers. The second is the nature and quality of both hard infrastructure (for example, roads and ports) and soft infrastructure (for example, the efficiency of customs clearance). The third is the availability of skills and the structure and orientation of the National System of Innovation in the domestic economy. The fourth, and overwhelmingly important contextual factor is policy. This reflects policy towards the commodity sector itself, and policy which affects the three contextual drivers, namely ownership, infrastructure and capabilities. As a result of this comparative analysis we provided an explanation of why linkage development was progressive in some economies (such as Botswana) and regressive in others (such as Tanzania). This cluster of factors also explains why the breadth and depth of linkages is relative advanced in some countries (such as South Africa), and at a very nascent stage in other countries (such as Angola).

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