Enterprise Clusters in Africa: On the Way to Industrialisation

Recent literature on industrial districts and enterprise clusters suggests that the grouping of enterprises into sectoral and geographic clusters gives rise to a certain collective efficiency that can enhance competitiveness and foster industrialisation. This paper reports the results of an analysis of eight African enterprise clusters: three in Kenya that were the subject of original research, and five others for which substantial secondary literature was available. The study addresses three questions: First, do the clusters have the characteristics associated with successful industrial districts elsewhere? Second, to what extent have they been able to respond to opportunities and shocks in their environment? And third, how closely are these clusters linked to the wider industrialisation process in their countries? The research found that only two of the eight clusters had the internal structure and wider market access generally associated with successful industrial districts, but that even these two clusters were at very different levels of development. The nature of involvement of each cluster in the relevant national industrialisation process varied with the level of development of the cluster. The paper draws implications from the findings about the appropriate support for clusters at each stage, and makes suggestions for further research.

  • Authors: Dorothy McCormick
  • Year: 1998
  • Organisation: University of Nairobi
  • Publisher: Institute of Development Studies
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