CONAKRY, 3 April 2012 – The Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), on a visit to West Africa this week, said UNIDO was committed to help the continent’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) reduce poverty through sustainable industrial development.
“UNIDO has a proven track record in helping Africa’s LDCs reduce poverty through sustainable industrial development. In Guinea, we are working closely with the Government to develop a flourishing productive sector, increase the country’s participation in international trade, and at the same time safeguard the environment,” said Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella after meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana.
Yumkella added that in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 20 per cent of young people were unemployed and over 60 per cent of Africa’s urban population was living in miserable conditions. “An increasing number of young men and women are moving to cities. Without access to jobs and means to fulfill their ambitions, they will have no future and will eventually pose a threat to social stability. With almost three quarters of the population under the age of 30, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have one of the youngest populations in the world. We have a responsibility to help them find employment. This is a major challenge but also an opportunity, and this is where UNIDO comes in to help reduce poverty through productive activities,” said Yumkella.
He noted that Guinea, under a strong leadership of the newly democratically elected President, had all the potential to grow economically if it were to invest strategically in a number of sectors, including in mining, agribusiness, energy, transport and telecommunication.
Yumkella is visiting Guinea and Sierra Leone for meetings with Government officials and to launch new or oversee ongoing projects worth a total of USD 15 million.
In Guinea, UNIDO projects total some USD 9 million, with France and Japan among the largest donors. The projects focus on developing multi-purpose mini-hydro power systems, phasing out Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that deplete the ozone layer (in the framework of the Montreal Protocol), and on skills training for crisis affected communities in order to help them find new employment opportunities.
A separate UNIDO project in Guinea will help in the economic empowerment of young people and women by engaging them in waste recycling. Small and medium enterprises will
be involved in collecting and processing waste in five districts of Conakry, and recruit a considerable number of unskilled and often illiterate young people.
UNIDO is also implementing a EUR 16.5 million West Africa programme that covers 16 countries and is funded by the European Commission. The programme is helping introduce international standards, harmonize laboratory operations (including product testing and calibration/metrology), promote quality and food safety management systems at enterprise level (ISO 9001 and ISO 22000), develop a regional quality infrastructure for standards, as well as national and regional quality policies.
During his mission to West Africa, Director-General Yumkella is accompanied by UNIDO Managing Director Dmitri Piskounov.
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