Africa has witnessed improved growth in recent years – averaging 5.5 per cent per annum. Nevertheless, poverty remains a serious challenge. This is because growth alone is not sufficient to propel broad-based development. For growth to be translated into sustained poverty reduction, greater attention needs to be placed on the quality of growth, its sustainability and spread. In this context, greater access to, acquisition and application of science, technology and innovation are critical for African countries to raise the quality of their human capital and consequently, enhance pro-poor growth.
The main challenge for development experts dealing with Africa is poverty alleviation which remains a serious issue in many parts of the continent. UNIDO's programmes share the common objective to give people the tools, skills, education and infrastructure to pull themselves out of poverty and create sustainable livelihoods. The African Union Commission, with UNIDO’s assistance, has formulated 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. Since the Industrial Development Decade of Africa of the 1980s and 90s, 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 our 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.
UNIDO is confident that the combined actions of UNIDO, Africa’s governments and their development partners in the public and private sectors will tackle the challenges successfully, accelerate the continent’s industrial development and spread wealth among its people.