By Julia Rainer
VIENNA (IDN) - The need for inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) and the role of industrialization as a driver for development drew the focus of attention as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) celebrated its 50th anniversary in November.
ISID was decided as the new mandate of UNIDO by its member states in 2013. Since then, UNIDO has been striving to translate it into practice through the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP).
According to UNIDO, the PCP is not a static template, but a custom-built partnership formula with each beneficiary country maintaining ownership of the complete process by defining its needs and required support, and finally ensuring the success of its delivery.
Each PCP is aligned with the national industrialization priorities and development plans of a partner country. At the same time, the selected countries need to be fully aligned with ISID objectives and demonstrate full ownership of the Programme.
They need to embed the PCP into their national resource mobilization strategies, and remain open to partnerships for up-scaling technical cooperation services and leveraging additional resources.
The two pilot countries that have meanwhile been chosen for PCP are both from Africa: Ethiopia and Senegal. "The question is how to disseminate the PCP on the continent, because we find that it is a very powerful and effective approach to implement ISID," said Edme Koffi, Chief of the Africa Regional Division.
ISID is important for several reasons. One of these being that while annual growth rates in Africa have averaged 5.5 per cent in recent years, poverty remains a grim challenge.
With this in view, UNIDO has assisted the African Union Commission in formulating the 'Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA)', a strategy, which aims to mobilize both financial and non-financial resources and increase Africa’s competitiveness with the rest of the world, Koffi told IDN.
Since the Industrial Development Decade of Africa of the 1980s and 1990s, and the Alliance for Africa’s Industrialization (AAI) of 2003, this Action Plan is the latest far-reaching initiative endorsed by the African leaders.
Another key objective of UNIDO programmes is to add value to goods for export and develop local production capacities. Overall, Africa lags behind, accounting for less than 3 per cent of global gross output, and less than 1 per cent of global manufacturing output.
UNIDO responds by undertaking a range of activities to upgrade value chains, bringing a product through various phases of processing to its final market destination. Strengthening local production capacities as well as enhancing skilled work force are the central prerequisites for an effective and sustainable upgrading of value chains.
Vienna-based UNIDO is confident that its actions, those of Africa’s governments and of their development partners in the public and private sectors would tackle the challenges successfully, accelerate the continent’s industrial development, alleviate poverty and raise the standard of living of the people.
After all, UNIDO was created in 1966 to promote the industrialization of developing countries, with the ambitious goal of helping to eliminate poverty.
To what extent that goal has been achieved cannot be determined for certain. IDN talked briefly to official representatives of Zimbabwe, Kenya and Cuba in Vienna.
Abigail Shonhiwa, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Zimbabwe, said the Southern African country was "one of the fortunate countries that have signed a country programme in the past few months".
The programme has six components that would "definitely be taking us forward in our industrialization agenda and in the inclusive industrialization programme", Shonhiwa told IDN.
The various components the programme is addressing have to do with entrepreneurship, particularly with the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), she added.
Shonhiwa said: "As a developing country we find ourselves in a situation where there is a lot of unemployment, we do have lots of graduates. We have understood the examples in other countries. We believe programmes having to do with developing entrepreneurship for the youth, for women empowerment and development of SMEs can enable us to access markets and generally lead to the empowerment of our communities. It should make a big difference in our country."
Jane B. Makori from Kenya's Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna said: "I think UNIDO has been a great support to our country since its inception, especially in the agro-industry or processing sector, in the 1980s and 1990s, when UNIDO’s support was very strong in the leather industry."
"Right now we are looking for other partnerships in the agro-processing sector, particularly using renewable energies and looking where it can add value to our agricultural sector," she added.
Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, hosts the regional office of UNIDO.
UNIDO assistance does take into account the needs of the people, because at this moment the countries’ vision is to industrialize by 2030, "and of course the support of UNIDO will be very crucial, not only in mobilizing support for us, but also trying to support us in indicating where we might have gone wrong and where we can do better and even where we can strengthen our partnership so that we can sustain the momentum as a middle income country", Makori told IDN.
Isaura Cabaña Vera from Cuba's Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna said that UNIDO had been a partner of Cuba during the 50 years ever since its foundation.
"We have worked a lot together and for projects we have provided experts to UNIDO and UNIDO has provided assistance, support and training to Cuba. Last year (2015) our minister of industry signed the country programmatic agreement," she said, adding that this agreement includes 19 projects to be developed in the next years from 2016 to 2020.
Sustainable Development Goal 9 is the most related with the work of UNIDO, but in fact the entire agenda is related with the work of UNIDO, because it concerns development, reduction of poverty, and gender equality, among others, the Cuban representative said. [IDN-InDepthNews – 02 December 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo credit: UN