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African leaders, UN officials, and representatives of international finance institutions and of the private sector met on Thursday, September 21 at the United Nations Headquarters to reaffirm their commitment to a broad-based international partnership to industrialize Africa in a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable manner. The African Development Bank was represented by Amadou Hott, the Bank’s Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
Africa share of global manufacturing stagnated below 2% over the last decade. Unemployment and poverty are serious concerns for the continent, where more than 70 percent of the working age population is unemployed or has no job security, prompting the UN to declare 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III). Earlier in 2016, the AfDB developed together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) an ambitious Industrialize Africa strategy that aims at more than doubling the continent’s industrial GDP.
The President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu, said, “My government is proud to be associated to this event and values the role played by organizations such as UNIDO and other government partners which seek to work closely with Africa to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the continent.”
He added: “Over the past two decades, the African continent has witnessed significant changes in policy orientation with more emphasis placed on building productive capacities in order to take advantage of opportunities emerging from the global economy. Many African countries have restructured their economies and have embraced liberal economics and trade policies to support development strategies. However, these reforms have come with their own challenges, including the influx of imported commodities and unfortunately closure of industries with consequential job losses.”
During the meeting, African leaders and development partners reiterated the importance of industrialization to eradicate poverty and to ensure that Africa’s fast-growing population yields its demographic dividend.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said, “The lack of skills is the major problem in Africa. With an integrated industrial strategy, African states will hopefully mobilize funds, build the capacity of local employment and promote small, medium enterprises with domestic development projects.”
Amadou Hott, AfDB Vice-President, Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, said, “The African Development Bank recently adopted an ambitious ‘Industrialize Africa’ strategy. The AfDB will significantly imcrease its own financing to industrialize Africa and leverage additional resources from financial partners over the next decade. We strongly believe that partnering with governments, the private sector, regional organizations and other development partners is key to address the major bottlenecks in the area of industrialization for a more prosperous Africa.”
The African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert M. Muchanga, said, “Let me stress that, in line with the theme of this event – from political commitment to action on the ground – and the underlying principle of inclusiveness, it is my expectation that resources mobilized under the Third Industrial Development Decade will be deployed so as to significantly show benefits accruing to the ordinary Africans on the ground through decent employment, and access to high-quality, safe and affordable manufactured goods that are made in Africa, among other direct and tangible benefits.”
UNIDO, which is tasked with leading the implementation of IDDA III, proposed to implement its new innovative approach to bring about the necessary structural transformation. The approach is based on a country-owned model known as the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) that leverages financial and non-financial resources, promotes regional integration and mobilizes co-operation among Africa’s development partners.
UNIDO Director General, Li Yong, said, “It is high time to move the IDDA III agenda steadily forward in order to foster inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Africa. Today’s presence of high-level participants from the public and private sectors, development financial institutions, the United Nations system, and bilateral and multilateral institutions confirms that Africa’s industrialization is of global importance.”
A joint communiqué, agreed by leaders of the African Development Bank, the African Union Commission, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the Office of the UN Special Advisor on Africa (OSAA) and UNIDO, acknowledged that the implementation of the ambitious goals of the Decade will require the mobilization and deployment of significant amounts of resources and expressed their support for scaling-up the PCP in the context of IDDA III.
The World Bank Group also announced its strong support for the implementation of the Decade.
Participants agreed on the importance of strengthening private sector engagement, in view of its fundamental role in driving growth, creating jobs, generating income and wealth, and contributing to fiscal revenue.