Rural economic diversification in sub-Saharan Africa

Type Working Paper - International Institute for Environment and Development
Title Rural economic diversification in sub-Saharan Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Rural transformation is integrally linked with the wider
processes of structural transformation taking place
within a given country. Despite the recent upswing
in growth within sub-Saharan Africa, economies are
still narrowly based on the production and export
of unprocessed agricultural products, renewable
natural resources, minerals and crude oil. Even with
optimistic scenarios on the growth of the manufacturing
and services sectors, in formal job creation and
agglomeration effects, it will take time to complete
economic transformation. With some 80 per cent
of the labour force estimated to be engaged in the
informal sector, including low-productivity agriculture
and household enterprises, increasing agricultural
productivity and expanding agribusiness must remain
a priority. Complementary and new efforts to support
household income diversification by enabling the growth
and security of the household enterprise sector will also
be central to the transformation process.
While continuing to place priority on economic and
social sector investments, governments must seek
to mainstream rural development within national
strategies and commit to the long term. Rural and
urban development policies and interventions should
be brought together, ideally within a territorial or
regional framework, to strengthen the market and
service linkages between rural areas and small towns
and secondary cities as drivers of local economic and
social development.
There remains a critical need to strengthen and make
accessible the necessary evidence base to inform
public policy on rural economic development. This
should include increased investment in the production
of quality agricultural and rural sector statistics
and relevant social and economic research and
its dissemination.

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