2016 Africa Industrialization Day

The annual commemoration of the Africa Industrialization Day (AID) was mandated by the UN General Assembly resolution 44/237 of 22 December 1989. This Day is celebrated annually and is intended to mobilize the commitment of the international community to the industrialization of Africa. In particular, the purpose of the celebration is to take stock of the progress made and identify remaining challenges regarding economic modernization and industrialization of the African continent.

This year the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) celebrated the Africa Industrialization Day under the theme “Financing Industrialization in Africa: Challenges and winning strategies”.

The focus on mobilizing financing for industrialization was particularly crucial considering that the year 2016 marks the beginning of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa.

Read Secretary-General's message for Africa Industrialization Day in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian.

Read the 2016 Africa Industrialization Day Report

Vienna symposium

UNIDO hosted the Vienna symposium on 21 November to celebrate the 2016 Africa Industrialization Day. The symposium took place at the Vienna International Centre during UNIDO’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The symposium highlighted the current challenges that the African continent faces in mobilizing financing for industrialization, and showcased previous successful strategies. The event brought together over 500 representatives from the diplomatic corps, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other significant stakeholders.

See the programme of the Vienna symposium

Visit the photo album of the Vienna symposium

New York symposium

A reception was held on 21 November in New York to commemorate the 2016 Africa Industrialization Day. The reception highlighted the important role of UNIDO and underscored the importance of partnerships and synergies at all levels and across all sectors for the realization of all aspirations, goals, priority actions and targets. The event brought many Permanent Representatives, as well many delegates and representatives of UN organizations and agencies. The reception was moderated by  Paul Maseli, UNIDO Representative to the UN in New York. Featured speakers included Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA); Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, who delivered the statement on behalf of the Secretary-General; Tomas Anker Christensen, Chef-de-Cabinet, Office of the President of the UN General Assembly; and Téte António, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN.

Addis Ababa symposium

A forum was held on 24th November in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa to celebrate UNIDO’s 50th Anniversary and the 2016 Africa Industrialization Day.

Held under the patronage of Ethiopian Chamber of Sectoral Associations, the Ethiopian Ministry of Industry, the African Union Commission and UNIDO, with the support of the Austrian Development Cooperation, the forum featured a panel debate on challenges and winning strategies for financing Africa’s industrialization and was attended by over 200 participants, including senior government officials, diplomats, policymakers and business leaders.

In his keynote speech, Alemu Sime, State Minister of Industry underscored the Ethiopian Government's determination to realize the targets set by its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), saying “My government is not only continuing to heavily invest on infrastructure and on developing the necessary human capital with the required skills and know how, but also setting up industrial zones and agro-food parks which are expected to serve as epicenter of agro-industrial transformation process in our country”.

Alemu also thanked UNIDO “for remaining such a staunch supporter and promoter of industrial development in the developing world since its inception". He said: "In the case of Ethiopia, UNIDO’s all-rounded support, including the wide range of technical and material assistance we received over the years, especially in the processing and manufacturing sectors, was highly significant. I believe UNIDO should be considered as one of the key contributors to the marked advances the country has managed to register in this sector.”

Andreas Melán, Ambassador of Austria to Ethiopia, applauded the longstanding cooperation between UNIDO and the Government of Austria, particularly through the Austrian Development Cooperation. He highlighted that “one of the major challenges for sustainable industrialization is decoupling economic growth from negative environmental and social impacts. UNIDO is the agency best suited to link economic, social and environmental aspects and to promote environmental and social safeguards according to international standards for a sustainable industrial development”.

The opening session was followed by an engaging debate, which covered topics including illicit financial flows, difficult business environment, political instability and over-dependence on commodities among the challenges facing industrialization in Africa. Participants agreed that Africa has to make deliberate choices and adopt selective strategies that boost labour-intensive manufacturing while gradually moving to medium range technologies. Domestic financing and private-public partnerships were regarded as the most reliable sources of financing industrial growth on the continent.

Brussels symposium

The Brussels office celebrated the 2016 Africa Industrialization Day as well as UNIDO's 50th anniversary with African and European partners at the European Parliament on 1 December.

More than 90 people participated in the event, including representatives from 45 African countries and European institutions, including the Parliament, the Commission, the External Action Service and the European Investment Bank. The private sector and civil society also participated actively in the debate.

At the opening, Louis Michel, member of European Parliament and Chair of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly congratulated UNIDO on its 50th anniversary and for “fighting poverty in real terms through tangible actions on the ground and through technological progress that contributes to Africa’s prosperity”. He then called on the European Commission “to ensure that transformation policies and their financing are on the agenda of the next EU-Africa summit in 2017".

Ajay Bramdeo, representative of the Africa Union highlighted that with the Agenda 2063, Africa has already clearly defined its strategy for the next 50 years. He said: “In order for Africa to move forward, we must have industrialization,” adding that “We have to take industrialization more seriously, take it more urgently. And we need to harness that demographic dividend of having more educated, more skilled youthful population, and mainstreaming women into our economy”.

Ambassadors from many African countries, including South Africa, Cameroon and Ethiopia, as well as representatives of other international organizations and investment banks also spoke at the event.

Maputo symposium

The celebration of the 2016 Africa Industrialization Day in the capital of Mozambique, Maputo took place on 6 December. It consisted of a roundtable discussion focusing on the challenges and winning strategies of financing industrialization in Africa, which applies to the reality of Mozambique today: On the one hand, the country is afflicted by financial and monetary crisis; on the other hand, the Government aims to promote economic competitiveness, economic diversification and massive job creation through the Five-year Plan 2015-2019.

The panel discussion was attended by Sven Khun Von Burgsdorff, Ambassador and head of the EU delegation; Joseph Ribeiro, representative of the African Development Bank;  Lourenço Sambo, Director General of the Investment Promotion Centre; and Rogério Samo Gudo, Vice President of the Industrial Association of Mozambique. This discussion was moderated by the UNIDO Country Representative, Jaime Comiche.

The event brought together around 90 participants from the private sector, banks, civil society, academia, government entities and development partners. Participants also identified substantive and informative plans for future technical cooperation interventions in Mozambique.

Bashir Condé
UNIDO Programme Officer