Press Releases

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          15 November 1999
    Secretary-General Stresses Need to Begin Now Developing New Jobs
    And Infrastructure in African Cities
    Importance of Sustaining And Improving Agricultural Output in Africa Also Stressed

     NEW YORK, 12 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message for the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day, which will be observed on 20 November:

     It is a pleasure to send my very best wishes for Africa Industrialization Day.  African industrialization is a critical issue for the economic viability of the continent and its effective integration into the global economy of the twenty-first century.  This year’s theme, “From Farm to Factory   For a Better Future”, emphasizes the important connection between agricultural development and industrialization.

     The growth rate of African cities is such that, 25 years from now, over  50 per cent of Africa’s population will be living in cities.  Therefore, it is vital that we begin developing new jobs and infrastructure in the cities today, while, at the same time, sustaining and indeed improving agricultural output.  To do this, we must accelerate foreign trade, spur greater regional integration and encourage foreign direct investment.

     The realities of international trade change more quickly than developing nations can keep up.  Some changes work in their favour, such as reduced tariffs and the elimination of non-tariff barriers -– when, which is all too seldom, such changes actually happen, or are not offset by the introduction of other forms of barriers to imports.  Others work against them, such as the growing emphasis on non-price factors of competition like quality, design, and service support.  We must not only work to enhance Africa’s productive capacities in both industry and agriculture, but also to create an economic environment that is more lenient.  In the long term, this will benefit the entire global economy.  Increased access to knowledge and skills-training will be essential in the process of improving productive capacities.  The countries that succeed in development will be those that are able to export high-value manufactured goods.

     On the path to industrialization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), along with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), will play a very important role.  These programmes must coordinate their efforts for a more comprehensive approach to addressing all the aspects of African industrialization.  I wish you all success in your endeavours.

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