As a country’s manufacturing advances from low to medium and high technology, it can produce goods that command higher prices on international markets. Also, a rising capability to introduce new and improved technologies enables a country to sustain productivity growth over time. In both production and exports the shares of medium- and high-technology manufactures in Sub-Saharan Africa are much lower than in the comparators (see charts here). More important, while the level of manufacturing technology has been African Transformation Report 2014 | Tracking economic transformation 29 rising in the comparator countries, the opposite has been true in Africa. Another way of looking at the evolution of the technology of exports is to focus on the top 10 exports of individual countries. In the comparator countries the general trend has been for the top 10 to be transformed from primary, resource-based, and low technology— to medium and high technology exports. In Sub-Saharan countries this transformation has yet to occur.
Ranking African Countries on Technological Upgrading
South Africa, a clear leader on technology, is followed at quite a distance by Senegal, Uganda, Nigeria, Botswana, Zambia, and Kenya. For Senegal the share of medium- and high-technology products in manufacturing value added slipped from 38% in 2000 to 36% in 2010. And for Uganda the share of medium- and high-technology products in exports slipped from 11% in 2000 to 10% in 2010. Starting from a low base, the share of medium and high technology exports has been rising—from 2% to 11% between the 1990s and 2000s. That Mauritius is not on this list is a surprise. This could reflect the focus of its manufacturing sector and exports on textiles, which are classified as low technology. Again, Ghana’s poor performance is a puzzle, reflecting its steady decline in manufacturing. The biggest improvements were by Uganda, Madagascar, and Rwanda.