Industrialization key to boosting Africa's economic resilience, Ban says

20 November 2008

Industrialization will help Africa overcome the current triple financial, food and climate crises and make critical progress on eradicating poverty, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

In a message marking Africa Industrialization Day, Mr. Ban said that the theme of this year's observance – “Processing of Raw Materials for Sustainable Growth and Development” – is timely given that a “slowdown in the global economy will hit exporters of primary products hard.”

With more than half the value of Africa's exports lying in primary products, the continent is especially vulnerable to worldwide shocks.

“It is essential for Africa to be able to process its raw materials into higher-value products, both for domestic consumption and for exports,” the Secretary-General said.

Over half of the continent's people work in the agriculture sector, making it essential to foster the agri-business and agro-processing industries, he noted, adding that domestic markets are already in place for many of these products.

Mr. Ban pointed to the examples of Malaysia and Thailand, countries which have moved rapidly into processing their primary and mineral products into high-value-added products.

“Industrialization has led to broad-based development and economic transformation in other parts of the world,” he said. “It can and must do the same in Africa.”

To commemorate the Day, a symposium will be held in Vienna at the headquarters of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which will hear from the Executive Heads of the African Union (AU), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and UNIDO.

Celebrations will also take place all over Africa and at UNIDO’s offices in New York, Geneva and Brussels.

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