|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by African Union, United Nations Industrial Development
Organization (UNIDO) on Africa Industrialization Day 2010
There is significant potential to be leveraged in the accelerated and sustainable industrial development of Africa, and many possibilities existed for tapping the continent’s vast potential, said speakers today during a Headquarters press conference on the occasion of the Africa Industrialization Day 2010, commemorated tomorrow, 20 November.
Permanent Observer of the African Union, Tete Antonio, reading from a joint statement by the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said that the Day in 2010, like its predecessors, “is an occasion for the United Nations family and the international community to reaffirm their commitment to Africa’s accelerated economic transformation, through sustainable industrialization”.
With Mr. Antonio was George Assaf, Director and UNIDO Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations, praised the Day’s focus on competitive industries. “This theme goes right to the heart of the current challenge for Africa’s development today,” he said.
In that vein, Ambassador Antonio added that “from a technical perspective, [the theme] implicitly recognizes that competitiveness can be drawn from not only existing (‘static’) comparative advantages, such as Africa’s immense natural resource base, but also from created (‘dynamic’) comparative advantages”.
Industrial transformation was a “complex and long-lasting process”, said the Ambassador, noting that it required — in addition to a conducive policy environment — the skilful mobilization and efficient deployment of financial resources as well as diverse non-financial resources into productive sectors.
Given such factors as the global food, fuel and financial crises, said Mr. Assaf, Africa had been hit by major supply-side constraints. The continent had suffered from low productivity, a lack of appropriate skills, a lack of infrastructure, a high cost of doing business and a lag in agricultural production — all of which contributed to a flagging economy.
To confront those challenges, said Ambassador Antonio, the Implementation Strategy of the African Union Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA) laid the foundation for dynamic comparative and competitive advantages aimed at ensuring Africa’s future competitiveness in the international economic system.
The plan’s central message, added Mr. Assaf, was that “fundamentally, Africa needs to integrate more effectively into international markets and to achieve market niches in international markets”.
Worried that Africa “still is too far dependent on primary products and the vagueries of primary product markets in international competition”, he urged it to diversify its productive base, its export base and most especially, accelerate economic growth. That, he said, was “pro-poor, which is employment-creating, which is therefore labour-intensive, and which is green”.
In the course of the briefing, Ambassador Antonio called upon key actors in Africa’s industrialization process, including regional economic communities, individual countries and the African Union Commission, to draw up priority action lists related to industrialization, as well as to implement activities related to industrialization “with a new vigour and energy”.
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