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Industrial policy is in fashion in Africa. The path out of poverty, goes this new thinking, lies through high-value manufacturing, specialisation and industrialisation.

This is a worthy and necessary long-term goal. But the truth is most African economies are not in a good position to embark on such a strategy immediately, lacking both the infrastructure and the capital to bring it about. Fortunately, much can be done with what Africa has, including its agricultural and mineral resources...

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