By J Nastranis
UNITED NATIONS (IDN) – When the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution to declare 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) in August 2016, it stated: “Africa remains the poorest and the most vulnerable region in the world.” And this despite the two previous decades.
The Resolution A/RES/70/293 noted “the need for the continent to take urgent action to advance sustainable industrialization as a key element of furthering economic diversification and value addition, creating jobs and thus reducing poverty,” and contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Agenda with 17 Goals and 169 targets was adopted in September 2015. The Resolution reaffirmed “the importance of industrialization in supporting Africa’s own efforts towards sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and accelerated development.”
The Resolution encourages the international community to take action and use inclusive and sustainable industrialization as a vehicle for meeting the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It calls on the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to develop, operationalize and lead the implementation of the programme for IDDA III.
It invites UNIDO, the specialized agency of the United Nations with the mandate to support Member States in achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development, to foster partnerships and coordinate with other relevant United Nations entities, and to build joint initiatives in favour of industrialization.
The Resolution also calls for stronger public-private partnerships with multiple stakeholders and enhanced international cooperation, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation, in order to expedite Africa’s industrialization.
The Resolution highlights that the common goals formulated in the IDDA III cannot be achieved by one organization or government alone. Successful industrial development in Africa requires effective partnerships and concerted efforts by governments, public and private investors, UN entities, civil society and other stakeholders.
The Resolution was an outcome of the joint high-level event organized by the African Union Commission, the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on the theme Operationalization of the 2030 Agenda for Africa’s industrialization, held on the margins of the 70th session of the General Assembly, on September 26, 2015.
Two years on, a high-level event at the United Nations Headquarters on the side-lines of the 72nd session of the General Assembly on September 21, 2017 discussed how IIDDA III political commitments could be into “actions on the ground.”
Against the backdrop that 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, African leaders, UN officials, and representatives of international finance institutions and of the private sector reaffirmed their commitment to a broad-based international partnership to industrialize Africa in a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable manner.
They reiterated the importance of industrialization to eradicate poverty and to ensure that Africa’s fast-growing population yields its demographic dividend. A joint communiqué signed by the UNIDO, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UNECA, and the OSAA acknowledged that the implementation of the ambitious goals of the Decade will require the mobilization and deployment of significant amounts of resources.
The UNIDO, which is tasked with leading the implementation of IDDA III, proposed to implement its new approach 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 cooperation 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.”
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.”
Promoting industrialization has featured high on the agendas of African governments for decades. In addition to regional and country-level efforts, the African Unions Agenda 2063 – and its 10-year implementation plan, in coordination with other relevant stakeholders, including regional economic communities and national entities – also prioritizes industrialization in its development planning strategies.
Amadou Hott, AfDB Vice-President, Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, said “The African Development Bank recently adopted an ambitious ‘Industrialize Africa’ strategy, developed together with UNIDO and UNECA, which aims at more than doubling industrial GDP of the continent within 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 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.”
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.”
Among other Development Finance Institutions, the World Bank Group also announced strong support for the implementation of the decade.
Participants also 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. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 September 2017]
Photo: UNIDO DG LI Yong addresses a special event, “Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016-2025): From political commitment to actions on the ground”. 21 September 2017. Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias
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