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Many African countries had a surprise manufacturing surge in 2010s – it bodes well for the years ahead

Industrialisation was key to long-term economic growth in the west and Asia. After years of going in the wrong direction, new research suggests that many African countries have seen a turnaround.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy, with world output contracting at 3.5% in 2020, and no recovery likely before the fourth quarter of 2021. Similar to other developing regions, sub-Saharan Africa recorded a 2.6% decline, following strong growth of 3.2% in 2019.

Unfortunately, this comes at a time when the region has been experiencing a surprising and very welcome manufacturing renaissance. Historically, industrialisation has been associated with rapid technological improvements and sustained growth in the western world, and more recently east Asia, gainfully employing millions of workers and helping it to close the income gap with richer countries.

Until the 2000s, sub-Saharan Africa was actually de-industrialising: the mood was gloomy as the little manufacturing activity that did exist was disappearing, and with it the traditional route to development and poverty reduction. In northern Nigeria’s biggest city, Kano, for example, textile factories, leather tanneries and ceramics plants were visibly falling into disrepair. There were reports of empty industrial parks in Ethiopia, while South Africa’s footwear industry had collapsed.

But recently the trend has reversed across the region. We have documented this in new research based on an in-depth investigation of national statistics in 51 countries, including 18 in sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from South Africa to Ethiopia to Nigeria to Kenya to Mauritius. These 18 countries account for nearly three-quarters of the GDP of the region, so they are a good representation of the overall picture.

The graph below shows how this industrial renaissance affected the share of manufacturing employment in three of the countries in the study, namely Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda. Manufacturing in Ghana and Nigeria started to expand from around 2010 onwards, while in Rwanda it had been steadily increasing as a share of employment since the 2000s. Rwanda’s industrialisation includes the opening of its first car assembly plant by Volkswagen in 2018, for instance.

Manufacturing as a % of employment, 1990–2018

Graph showing manufacturing employment in Ghana, Rwanda and Nigeria
GGDC/UNU-WIDER Economic Transformation Database

We saw the same broad trends across the region, although in some – such as Mauritius – industrial capacity continued to decline. As you can see from the table below, the average percentage of employment in manufacturing in the African countries in our study remained static at 7.2% between 1990 and 2010 but had risen to 8.4% by 2018. This is still low in comparison with developing Asia and Latin America, but the trend is clear enough.

Manufacturing in Africa, Latin America and east Asia

Table comparing manufacturing performance in different developing regions
Note that these are unweighted averages. GGDC-UNU WIDER Economic Transformation Database

Despite this promising trend, another thing to note from the table is that the manufacturing in the region as a share of real value added (in other words GDP) actually decreased. What this tells us is that productivity growth in manufacturing was lower than in the economy as a whole. In fact, manufacturing productivity barely improved at all in the region in the 2010s.

To explain why manufacturing employment rose while productivity stayed the same, we need to make a distinction between small and large firms. Large modern firms tend to be more productive than smaller firms, partly because they benefit from economies of scale so that more goods can be produced on a larger scale but with lower input costs.

What seems to have been happening is that smaller firms have been mainly responsible for sub-Saharan Africa’s industrial resurgence, hiring workers to make more low-quality goods such as processed food, clothing and wood products to meet rising demand from domestic consumers. This is different to manufacturing in east Asia, which was driven by exports. In sub-Saharan Africa, some manufacturing work moved from China to countries such as Ethiopia in search of lower wages, but it’s debatable to what extent this has driven the overall trend towards increased industrialisation.

The pandemic effect

One major question that stems from our research is how this trend towards more industrialisation in sub-Saharan Africa is likely to have been affected by COVID-19. Various economic activities have taken a hit, particularly travel and tourism, as lockdown policies have put a break on commerce and travelling. Fundamental drivers of long-term manufacturing growth have also been held back – especially education, with schools closed in many countries for extended periods.

On the other hand, since the recent manufacturing growth has mainly been serving a domestic and not an export market, it is at least not primarily depending on demand from other countries. But as far as exports are concerned, the initial indications are that commodity exports in sub-Saharan Africa were hit harder than manufacturing – vividly illustrated by the collapse in oil prices in 2020 (which has since bounced back). The recently created African Continental Free Trade Area might also boost regional trade in manufactured goods in the years to come. So all in all, the manufacturing renaissance in the region may be relatively resilient.

As Arthur Lewis, a Nobel-prize winning economist from St Lucia, noted back in 1979, expanding small-scale activity in manufacturing is an important part of the development process. In sub-Saharan Africa, this has been made possible by an expanding market for domestic produce. Assuming the pandemic has not undermined this too badly, there is no reason why this trend should not continue in the decade to come.

Gaaitzen de Vries receives funding from The Economic Transformation Database, on which the findings presented in this article are based, and is supported by UNU-WIDER as part of the ETD – Economic Transformation Database project.

Emmanuel B Mensah, Hagen Kruse, and Kunal Sen do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Federal Food Stamps Program Hits Record Costs In 2022

Federal Food Stamps Program Hits Record Costs In 2022

In early January, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board warned that one peril of a…

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Federal Food Stamps Program Hits Record Costs In 2022

In early January, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board warned that one peril of a large administrative state is the mischief agencies can get up to when no one is watching.

Specifically, they highlight the overreach of the Agriculture Department, which expanded food-stamp benefits by evading the process for determining benefits and end-running Congressional review.

Exhibit A in the over-reach is the fact that the cost of the federal food stamps program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increased to a record $119.5 billion in 2022, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

Food Stamp costs have literally exploded from $60.3 billion in 2019, the last year before the pandemic, to the record-setting $119.5 billion in 2022.

In 2019, the average monthly per person benefit was $129.83 in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That increased by 78 percent to $230.88 in 2022.

Even more intriguing is the fact that the number of participants had increased from 35.7 million in 2019 to 41.2 million in 2022...

All of which is a little odd - the number of people on food stamps remains at record highs while the post-COVID-lockdown employment picture has improved dramatically...

Source: Bloomberg

If any of this surprises you, it really shouldn't given that 'you, the people' voted for the welfare state. However, as WSJ chided: "abuse of process doesn’t get much clearer than that."

In its first review of USDA, the GAO skewered Agriculture’s process for having violated the Congressional Review Act, noting that the “2021 [Thrifty Food Plan] meets the definition of a rule under the [Congressional Review Act] and no CRA exception applies. Therefore, the 2021 TFP is subject to the requirement that it be submitted to Congress.” GAO’s second report says “officials made this update without key project management and quality assurance practices in place.”

Abuse of process doesn’t get much clearer than that. The GAO review won’t unwind the increase, which requires action by the USDA. But the GAO report should resonate with taxpayers who don’t like to see the politicization of a process meant to provide nutrition to those in need, not act as a vehicle for partisan agency staffers to impose their agenda without Congressional approval.

All of this undermines transparency and accountability for a program that provided food stamps to some 41 million people in 2021. The Biden Administration is using the cover of the pandemic to expand the entitlement state beyond what Congress authorized.

The question now is, will House Republicans draw attention to this lawlessness and use their power of the purse to stop it to the extent possible with a Democratic Senate.

And don't forget, the US economy is "strong as hell."

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/28/2023 - 09:55

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Spread & Containment

A Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Adult Favorite Has Not Come Back

The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn’t been brought back.

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The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn't been brought back.

In the early days of Royal Caribbean Group's (RCL) - Get Free Report return from its 15-month covid pandemic shutdown, cruising looked a lot different. Ships sailed with limited capacities, masks were required in most indoor areas, and social distancing was a thing.

Keeping people six feet apart made certain aspects of taking a cruise impossible. Some were made easier by the lower passenger counts. For example, all Royal Caribbean Windjammer buffets required reservations to keep the crowds down, but in practice that system was generally not needed because capacities were never reached.

Dance parties and nightclub-style events had to be held on the pool decks or in larger spaces, and shows in the big theaters left open seats between parties traveling together. In most cases, accommodations were made and events more or less happened in a sort of normal fashion.

A few very popular events were not possible, however, in an environment where keeping six feet between passengers was a goal. Two of those events -- the first night balloon drop and the adult "Crazy Quest" game show -- simply did not work with social-distancing requirements.

One of those popular events has now made its comeback while the second appears to still be missing (aside from a few one-off appearances).

TheStreet

The Quest Is Still Mostly Missing

In late November, Royal Caribbean's adult scavenger hunt, "The Quest," (sometimes known as "Crazy Quest") began appearing on select sailings. And at the time it appeared like it was coming back across the fleet: A number of people posted about the return of the interactive adult game show in an unofficial Royal Caribbean Facebook group.

It first appeared during a Wonder of the Seas transatlantic sailing.

Since, then its appearances continue to be spotty and it has not returned on a fleetwide basis. This might not be due to any covid-related issues directly, but covid may play a role.

On some ships, Studio B, which hosts "The Quest," has been used for show rehearsals. That has been more of an issue with the trouble Royal Caribbean has had in getting new crew members onboard. And while that staffing issue has been improving, some shows may not have had full complements of performers, so using the space for rehearsal has been a continuing need.

In addition, while covid rules have gone away, covid has not, and ill cast members may force the need for more rehearsals.

Royal Caribbean has not publicly commented on when (or whether) "The Quest" will make a full comeback

Royal Caribbean Balloon Drops Are Back   

Before the pandemic, Royal Caribbean kicked off many of its cruises with a balloon drop on the Royal Promenade. That went away because it forced people to cluster as music was performed and, at midnight, balloons fell from the ceiling.

Now, the cruise line has brought back the balloon drop, albeit with a twist. The drop itself is appearing on activity schedules for upcoming Royal Caribbean cruises. Immediately after it, however, the cruise line has added something new: "The Big Recycle Balloon Pickup."

Most of the dropped balloons get popped during the drop. Previously, crewmembers picked up the used balloons. Now, the cruise line has made it a "fun" passenger activity.

"Get environmentally friendly as you help us gather our 100% biodegradable balloons in recycle baskets," the cruise line shared in its app. 

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Spread & Containment

What’s Still Missing on Royal Caribbean Cruises Post Covid

The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn’t been brought back.

Published

on

The cruise line has almost fully returned to normal after the covid pandemic, but one very popular activity hasn't been brought back.

In the early days of Royal Caribbean Group's (RCL) - Get Free Report return from its 15-month covid pandemic shutdown, cruising looked a lot different. Ships sailed with limited capacities, masks were required in most indoor areas, and social distancing was a thing.

Keeping people six feet apart made certain aspects of taking a cruise impossible. Some were made easier by the lower passenger counts. For example, all Royal Caribbean Windjammer buffets required reservations to keep the crowds down, but in practice that system was generally not needed because capacities were never reached.

Dance parties and nightclub-style events had to be held on the pool decks or in larger spaces, and shows in the big theaters left open seats between parties traveling together. In most cases, accommodations were made and events more or less happened in a sort of normal fashion.

A few very popular events were not possible, however, in an environment where keeping six feet between passengers was a goal. Two of those events -- the first night balloon drop and the adult "Crazy Quest" game show -- simply did not work with social-distancing requirements.

One of those popular events has now made its comeback while the second appears to still be missing (aside from a few one-off appearances).

TheStreet

The Quest Is Still Mostly Missing

In late November, Royal Caribbean's adult scavenger hunt, "The Quest," (sometimes known as "Crazy Quest") began appearing on select sailings. And at the time it appeared like it was coming back across the fleet: A number of people posted about the return of the interactive adult game show in an unofficial Royal Caribbean Facebook group.

It first appeared during a Wonder of the Seas transatlantic sailing.

Since, then its appearances continue to be spotty and it has not returned on a fleetwide basis. This might not be due to any covid-related issues directly, but covid may play a role.

On some ships, Studio B, which hosts "The Quest," has been used for show rehearsals. That has been more of an issue with the trouble Royal Caribbean has had in getting new crew members onboard. And while that staffing issue has been improving, some shows may not have had full complements of performers, so using the space for rehearsal has been a continuing need.

In addition, while covid rules have gone away, covid has not, and ill cast members may force the need for more rehearsals.

Royal Caribbean has not publicly commented on when (or whether) "The Quest" will make a full comeback

Royal Caribbean Balloon Drops Are Back   

Before the pandemic, Royal Caribbean kicked off many of its cruises with a balloon drop on the Royal Promenade. That went away because it forced people to cluster as music was performed and, at midnight, balloons fell from the ceiling.

Now, the cruise line has brought back the balloon drop, albeit with a twist. The drop itself is appearing on activity schedules for upcoming Royal Caribbean cruises. Immediately after it, however, the cruise line has added something new: "The Big Recycle Balloon Pickup."

Most of the dropped balloons get popped during the drop. Previously, crewmembers picked up the used balloons. Now, the cruise line has made it a "fun" passenger activity.

"Get environmentally friendly as you help us gather our 100% biodegradable balloons in recycle baskets," the cruise line shared in its app. 

Read More

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