KINSHASA, 1 August 2012 – The Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said today that agribusiness and agro-industries and economic diversification were key factors that would put Africa on the road to prosperity.
“Agriculture is the most important sector of the African economy and will have to be its driving engine out of poverty. It accounts for 65 per cent of the continent’s employment and 75 per cent of its domestic trade. Africa is also urbanizing at a fast rate. In order to turn bright prospects into employment opportunities for its young people, Africa needs to embrace economic diversification,” said Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella.
He was a keynote speaker at the Africa Caucus Meeting in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo which brought together Africa's finance ministers, central bank governors, and representatives of international development agencies and financial institutions. The other keynote speaker was Justin Lin, the former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank, who is working with UNIDO for several weeks as a senior strategic adviser.
Yumkella also said it was necessary to boost agricultural productivity in the continent in order to achieve sustainable industrial and agribusiness development as a means of wealth and job creation.
During his two-day visit, Director-General Yumkella will have meetings with President Joseph Kabila, and Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon.
“The transformation of agricultural raw materials into industrial products depends increasingly on the capacity of African entrepreneurs to participate and compete in global, regional and local value chains. Accordingly, African agribusiness value chains will have to adapt to changing market conditions, continuously improve efficiency and strive to meet consumer requirements in a competitive global trade system,” said Yumkella.
He added that “high performance agribusiness value chains need to be based on processes that guarantee the highest product quality in a challenging global marketplace. Africa needs new learning and innovation systems involving regional cooperation, new types of partnerships between farmers, sellers, investors and researchers, and the right incentives and public actions that crowd-in rather than crowd-out private investment”.
He urged African countries to strategically invest in transport infrastructure, access to energy and water, ICTs and management efficiency in order for agribusiness to thrive.
“Without decisive action towards economic diversification, improvements in agricultural productivity and increased resources, water and energy efficiency, the creation of ‘decent’ employment opportunities to address the fast growing population and urbanization trends will not be possible,” said Yumkella.
“A green industrial policy can put Africa on a virtuous growth path. Governments need to introduce mechanisms comprised of appropriate incentives, disincentives and regulations to attract investments in the desired manufacturing areas and in much needed economic and physical infrastructure.”
In 2012, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNIDO launched the Accelerated Agribusiness and Agro-industries Development Initiative, or 3ADI, to promote value addition to agricultural commodities, with the added value being realized in domestic markets and through global supply networks. The initiative is now operational in 12 countries, including Afghanistan, the Comoros Islands, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Tanzania.
The Africa Caucus Meeting was formed following the Monterrey Convention of 2002 in Mexico. It comprises of African member countries of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) seeking to engage other policy makers around the continent in addressing issues relating to Africa's economic transformation.
Director-General Yumkella is co-editor of a recent UNIDO Publication, “Agribusiness for Africa's Prosperity”.
Watch a video with Director-General Yumkella speaking about the new book:
The book “Agribusiness for Africa's Prosperity” is available in English and French and can be downloaded here:
To read the full speech by Director-General Yumkella, please go here:
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