15 November 2001


Message to Mark Africa Industrialization Day -– 20 November 2001

NEW YORK, 14 November (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day, 20 November:

Every year on 20 November, the United Nations system observes Africa Industrialization Day, which seeks to promote international support for Africa's industrial development.

Many African countries continue to be constrained by poor physical infrastructure, weak institutional capacity, a widening technology gap among nations and inadequate regulatory systems. Countries in Africa are finding it increasingly difficult to integrate into a rapidly changing global economy, and the benefits of globalization are largely bypassing the continent. Concerns about globalization, especially the persistence of poverty and the potential for greater marginalization, are major African concerns as well.

Industrial development can be a key element in reversing this state of affairs. The theme of this year's observance, "The Challenges of Industrialization of Africa for the New Millennium", underscores the urgent need for African countries to review and revise their industrial policies. A number of countries have already begun to do so, recognizing that African nations can no longer rely only on cheap labour and raw materials. Rather, they must transform static comparative advantages into dynamic ones, which will mean increasing work-force productivity, improving economic governance, promoting investment and entrepreneurship, and ensuring that women play a central role. Rural industrialization, information technology, and a focus on small-scale and medium-sized enterprises -- the backbone of any industrialized society -- must also be given priority.

Industrial development is an essential part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) -- the comprehensive plan for African recovery adopted at the Lusaka Summit in July at which African leaders also declared the establishment of an African Union. Based on African ownership and leadership, NEPAD puts considerable emphasis on manufacturing, on developing new industries and upgrading existing ones, and on regional approaches.

If African industries are to prosper and grow, they need not only a business-friendly climate at home, but also open markets abroad and international support. The United Nations system, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in particular, will continue to do their part to help in the diversification of African economies and in promoting industrial development throughout the continent.

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