Grand infrastructure projects aren’t a magic bullet for industrial development – insights from Ghana and Kenya

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The African Union’s Agenda 2063 initiative focuses on large-scale infrastructure development and aims to connect the continent through rail, road, sea, and air transportation. Alongside this, efforts are being made to enhance economic integration, with the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area in 2021, which is the largest free trade area globally.

Advocates of infrastructure-focused development argue that improving connectivity will facilitate industrialization and planned urbanization. By creating well-planned urban regions that can compete globally and attract foreign direct investment, policymakers believe they can stimulate industrial growth. Development corridors, special economic zones, new cities, and city master plans are proposed as tools to develop urban spaces that can effectively integrate into global production networks. This, in turn, is expected to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of African industries, leading to increased exports of high-value manufactured goods rather than relying on natural resources and unprocessed agricultural commodities.

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