On Africa Industrialization Day, Ban warns gender inequity, youth unemployment risk continent’s progress

Trainees in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the project known as “Connecting 1,500 Women and Girls to the Export Market,” which helps women and girls to develop skills in industries such as leather, weaving, basketry, embroidery, gemstones, and spinning. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

20 November 2015 – Marking the Africa Industrialization Day, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for job creation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for women and youth to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable industrial development on the continent.

“In recent years, many countries in Africa have experienced significant economic growth and progress in human development. However, inclusive and sustainable industrial development remains elusive,” said Mr. in his message on the Day, marked annually on 20 November.

He pointed out that both youth unemployment and gender inequity jeopardize the continent’s efforts to eradicate poverty.

The private sector in Africa contributes to a projected 80 per cent of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supports an estimated 90 per cent of all jobs. SMEs have a pivotal role to play in the industrial development of Africa.

Nevertheless, the UN chief noted that the opportunities for youth and women generated by SMEs are limited, thus failing to harness the full entrepreneurial potential of the continent.

“This means less capacity for transformative socio-economic development, innovation and value addition,” he said.

The theme for this year’s Day is ‘SMEs for Poverty Eradication and Job Creation for Women and Youth.’

In his message, the Secretary-General stressed that Africa needs to invest in training and education for women and youth to industrialize, grow the private sector and achieve sustainable development. “SMEs can provide a solid foundation for sustained economic growth, job creation and poverty eradication,” he added.

The important contribution of inclusive and sustainable industrialization in helping Africa to overcome its critical development challenges is clearly recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by United Nations Member States in September.

“I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to enhance Africa’s SME sector and stimulate economic opportunities for women and youth to promote the continent’s progress towards economically enriched, socially inclusive and prosperous societies,” concluded Mr. Ban.


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