Addis Ababa: The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has recommended a fresh look at the continent's informal industries, saying new policies to address the quality of jobs and financing were required for their survival. UNECA's chief economics analyst, Adam Elhiraika, said Tuesday that although the informal sector in Africa plays in important role in creating jobs and driving economic growth, the sector faced a series of setbacks, including lack of loans and policy support.
"The informal sector plays an important role in Africa. But we do not have specific information on their entry and exit into the economies of the various countries," said Elhiraika, during the launch of the UN Economic Report on Africa here Tuesday.
He said the lack of relevant research and studies on the factors that affect the informal industries made it difficult for most of the countries to improve their chances of growth. "We call on the African countries to look into this issue of information and carry out annual and periodic surveys that would help to design country-specific strategies for these industries," he added.
Kenya's informal sector industries, mostly engaged in the manufacture of home appliances, such as energy-saving cookers, cooking pots and other light industrial machinery, is reputed for its mass exports across the Eastern Africa region. But most of the small-scale investors in this sector, which employs 6.4 million Kenyans, for example, have no access to sources of finance to better equip their industries.
The UN experts said appropriate investments were required to enhance training of workers in order to improve industrial production within Africa.
Elhiraika said the governments in Africa needed to place utmost attention on the private-sector, with a close examination of the jobs that the sector created to address deep poverty. "Africa's growth prospects and ability to sustain high rates of employment generation and broader social development depend on success in economic diversification," said Elhiraika, who leads the UNECA's Macroeconomic analysis section.
Meanwhile, the Economic Report on Africa 2010 shows that Africa survived the worst effects of global economic downturn. The effects of the economic downturn on African economies was not as bad as had been predicted in 2009, with the continent expected to post an impressive 4.8 per cent economic growth in 2010, the economists said here Tuesday.
The continent's overall economic growth declined from 4.9 percent in 2008 to 2.4 percent in 2009.
The rate of growth was earlier expected to be steady at 1.4 percent in 2009.