Since 1988, the African Union has committed to productivity promotion in the African continent.

In 1988 the General Secretariat of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) organized the first Pan-African Tripartite Seminar on the Productivity of African Workers the results of which were condensed in Document LC/3 (XII), calling particularly for the establishment of regional productivity organizations as clusters for the creation of a pan-African productivity organization.

Recently, the African Union again committed itself at the 6th LSAC, 2008 (LSC-EXP8 (VI), by recommending the implementation of the strategies contained in a Briefing Note on Productivity in Africa, i.e. : 

  • the brainstorming to continue on this issue; 
  • need to implement the strategies of the Note, collaborating with social partners, MS, RECs, PAPA, international partners (ILO, etc); 
  • the Commission to help in the establishment and/or strengthening of national and regional structures involved in the promotion of productivity; 
  • the Commission’s support to PAPA by sensitizing Member States to join the organization. 

The current productivity reality in the continent will not improve significantly without a kind of a comprehensive Productivity Agenda, as the challenges are many and daunting. According to the ILO, the largest gap of productivity is encountered in Africa (ILO 2007) with a value added per worker 12 times less in Sub-Saharan Africa than that of a worker in the industrialized world and 4 times lower in Africa’s North, 80% of workers in the Informal Economy, the Rural Economy (R.E) and the SMEs while they contribute for about 60% of GDP and these sectors are dampened by very low productivity scores. The specific role that productivity plays in poverty reduction needs reiteration. This is particularly the case with the knock-on effects of productivity increases on agriculture and rural economic activities. With about two-thirds of its population living in the rural sector, Africa would witness transformational development if productivity increased significantly in that sector. 

Many factors contribute to the declining productivity in Africa, amongst are: 

  • Poor performance of the Public Sector as well as the Parastatal Sector
  • Lack of a comprehensive productivity movement agenda
  • Lack of competitiveness among local enterprises
  • Low skilled workforce specially in the informal SMMEs and agriculture
  • Weak tripartism and weak political commitment to productivity
  • the quality of the education and training system, 
  • the ineffectiveness of the labour market information systems, 
  • the corporate human resource management systems, 
  • the quality of Social Dialogue and 
  • the state of infrastructure (electricity, transport, telecommunications etc) and services (health, central and local bureaucracies etc.).
  • The institutional African infrastructure to promote productivity movement is still at the nascent stage.  Despite the fact that there are  15 NPOs at the continental level, only six NPOs are members of the PAPA.