Industrial development key to Africa's integration into global economy – UN official

18 November 2009 – The head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) warned today that Africa must overcome the obstacles to boosting industrial production and gaining a larger share of world trade to benefit from the global economy.

Although UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella noted that the continent's six per cent annual growth rates between 2003 and 2007 mark a slow but positive course, he said there are a number of barriers in its path to developing its manufacturing sector.

“Africa's pursuit of industrialization continues to be hindered by many challenges which must be addressed urgently,” said Mr. Yumkella, ahead of Africa Industrialization Day, observed annually on 20 November.

“These challenges include limited industrial skills and technological capabilities, weak support from institutions, inadequate financing and underdeveloped internal and regional markets.” He stressed that the global financial and economic turmoil has also disrupted African efforts to industrialize.

He added that for Africa to benefit from a predicted recovery and increase its share of world trade, it must “focus on industrialization as a critical engine of economic growth and development.”

Pointing to the African Union Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa, Mr. Yumkella said there are positive initiatives already underway aimed at transforming the continent's economy to become more prosperous, competitive and sustainable.

He also stressed that greater regional integration benefits production competitiveness through economies of scale and scope, increases trade opportunities through larger markets, provides more opportunities for large investments, and strengthens bargaining power.

“Coupled with integration, industrial development will allow African nations to speak with one voice and accelerate the process of achieving stronger political and economic cooperation,” he added.

On 20 November, UNIDO will organize a symposium in Vienna under the theme of “Industrialization for integration: A strategy for continental development and effective participation in the global economy.”

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