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UN Calls for Sustainable Industrial Development in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is still the world’s least industrialized region.Sub-Saharan Africa is still the world’s least industrialized region.

While much of Africa has achieved impressive economic growth, United Nations officials Thursday encouraged countries on the continent to take further action to advance inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

“We all have to acknowledge a simple fact: Africa is growing,” Miroslav Lajcak, president of the General Assembly, said at a high-level event in New York focusing on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa, un.org reported.

Lajcak noted that this is true for the continent’s economy, with successive growth recorded since the early 2000s. It is also true for its population, particularly in relation to its youth. By 2050, Africa will be home to 38 out of the 40 youngest countries in the world.

“This growth presents great opportunity. It could lead to the eradication of poverty and an improvement in livelihoods. But, for this to happen, growth must be inclusive. And it must be sustained,” he stated. “Industrialization has the potential to drive this kind of growth.”

The General Assembly last year proclaimed the period 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa, underlining the need for the sustainable industrialization of the continent.

According to the UN Industrial Development Organization, the need for a new approach to the sustainable industrial transformation of Africa is clear. What is needed now is a broad-based and country-owned process that leverages financial and non-financial resources, promotes regional integration, and mobilizes cooperation among Africa’s development partners.

Addressing Thursday’s meeting, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed highlighted some achievements, including the fact that 16 African countries were among the world’s top 30 fastest growing nations. In addition, last year, the 10 fastest growing African economies posted GDP growth rates exceeding 5%.

At the same time, continued commodity-dependence–coupled with fluctuations in commodity prices–makes African economies vulnerable and hampers their ability to create decent jobs and effectively tackle poverty, she noted. “Hence the need for African countries to take further action to advance inclusive and sustainable industrial development.”

She appealed to all partner institutions to use their influence and expertise to promote industrialization and inclusive sustainable development that will benefit all the nations and people of Africa.

Over several decades, some developing countries—mainly in Asia—have been able to industrialize. Despite repeated attempts, Africa has not. “If we look at the shares of global manufacturing value added for 2014 we see that the Asia and Pacific region’s share was 44.6%, whereas Africa’s share was just 1.6%. Sub-Saharan Africa is still the world’s least industrialized region, with only one country, South Africa, being considered industrialized.

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