Special economic zones – an instrument for industrialization andthe development of skills in Central Africa

Tempo de leitura: 1 minuto

Prepared by Subregional Office for Central Africa, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

This policy brief is based on a research project on skills for economic
diversification developed by the ECA Subregional Office for Central Africa. It highlights
the ambitions of and the challenges faced by countries in Central Africa in their efforts
aimed at promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and developing technical
skills in the subregion, following the commitments of the Douala Consensus in 2017.
1 The policy brief has an emphasis on the role that special economic zones can play in the
development of the skills required for economic diversification.

Industrialization and economic diversification are major development priorities in Central Africa. Through the elaboration of their development strategies and industrial master plans, countries of the Economic Community of Central African States have identified industries and sectors in which growth is considered a strategic way forward. Companies and industries operating in the subregion, however, are often faced with a mismatch between the existing human capital and the skills required for expansion. An assessment of skillsdevelopment systems of the subregion reveals an inconsistency in the quality of the existing educational offering, which is a gap that needs to be filled as a prerequisite for structural transformation. The development of special economic zones, therefore, appears to be an interesting path to take, through which not only industrialization but also the development of skills could be improved in the subregion. Research shows that workers with skills specific to a particular sector tend to be concentrated in areas with job opportunities, while firms tend to concentrate where there is a high number of workers with the required skills: if an efficient, inclusive and modern skills-development and dissemination system can be established in locally integrated special economic zones, the subregion could benefit from a synergistic effect that boosts employment, production and overall living conditions in the subregion.

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