18 November 2009

Industrialization Key to Africa's Full Integration Into Global Economy, Says UNIDO Director-General

VIENNA, 18 November (UN Information Service) - UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella, said today that Africa's pursuit of industrialization was critical to the continent's full integration into the global economy.

"Industrialization is essential for Africa's effective integration into the global economy. It has been going slow but remains on a positive trajectory as evidenced by six per cent annual growth rates between 2003 and 2007. Africa's pursuit of industrialization continues to be hindered by many challenges which must be addressed urgently. These challenges include limited industrial skills and technological capabilities, weak support from institutions, inadequate financing and underdeveloped internal and regional markets. The global financial and economic crisis has also had a negative impact on Africa's industrialisation efforts," said Yumkella, marking Africa Industrialization Day.

He said that the 2009 World Bank Global Development Finance report suggests that the world economy is poised for recovery, adding: "In order to benefit from this recovery and ultimately increase its share of global output and trade, Africa must focus on industrialization as a critical engine of economic growth and development."

Africa Industrialization Day was established in 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly and is celebrated on 20 November. This year's theme is 'Industrialization for Integration'.

The Director General said that UNIDO was committed to supporting Africa's efforts to create a more prosperous future.

"It is possible for Africa to overcome its challenges in industrialization and transform its economy, and I am glad to see the various efforts and initiatives it is taking," said Yumkella, referring to the African Union Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa.

The Action Plan, adopted in January 2008, outlines a set of programmes, projects and activities for stimulating a competitive and sustainable industrial development process.

Yumkella further pointed out the important role that regional integration, if conceived and managed effectively, can play in fostering the industrialization of the continent: "The benefits of enhanced regional integration in Africa include increased production competitiveness through economies of scale and scope, increased trade opportunities through larger markets, increased opportunities for larger investments, and increased bargaining power. All these attributes are fundamental to the continent's quest for organic, robust and self-sustaining economic growth and development. Coupled with integration, industrial development will allow African nations to speak with one voice and accelerate the process of achieving stronger political and economic cooperation."

On 20 November, UNIDO will organize a Symposium in Vienna under the theme "Industrialization for integration: A strategy for continental development and effective participation in the global economy". The event will be held from 15:00 to 16:30 in Conference Room M01, M-Building, 1st Floor, Vienna International Centre. Journalists are invited to attend the event.

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For further information, please contact:

George Assaf
Spokesperson, UNIDO
Telephone: (+43-1) 26026-3849
Email: g.assaf@unido.org
Website: www.unido.org