African governments face a major dilemma. On the one hand, structural transformation is necessary for achieving substantial and broad-based improvements in human well-being. On the other hand, structural transformation, together with rising affluence and a growing population, will necessarily intensify environmental pressures because of the increasing demand for natural resources, including both material and energy inputs used in production, the expanding magnitude of waste and pollution, and the growing reliance on non-renewable resources.
The Report, Economic Development in Africa Report 2012: Structural Transformation and Sustainable Development in Africa, suggests that this dilemma can be resolved by employing a development strategy called sustainable structural transformation. This involves the adoption of deliberate, concerted and proactive measures to promote structural transformation and the relative decoupling of natural resource use and environmental impacts from the growth process. Decoupling refers here to using fewer resources per unit of economic output (i.e. increasing resource productivity or resource efficiency) and mitigating the environmental impact of any resources that are used or economic activities that are carried out.
The Report includes a set of stylized facts on resource use and productivity in Africa. This information is based on the first comprehensive, comparative and quantitative study on the levels, trends and composition of resource use in Africa.
The Report discusses why a strategy of sustainable structural transformation is important and how strategic priorities for decoupling can be identified. It argues that it is essential that an appropriate enabling environment, including support measures such as increased aid for the energy sector and enhanced technology transfer mechanisms, be created at the international level in order to support Africa in achieving sustainable structural transformation.
The Report offers a set of policy recommendations to African policymakers and their development partners for implementing sustainable structural transformation. It argues that green industrial development must lie at the heart of sustainable structural transformation in Africa. This needs to be complemented by policies designed to increase access to energy, in particular sustainable energy, and by policies fostering a green agricultural revolution in Africa based on the sustainable intensification of agricultural production.
- The report, 161 pages, can be accessed here.