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Saturday, 01 June 2013

TICAD participants say industrialization a priority for Africa’s development

YOKOHAMA, Japan, 1 June 2013 – Leaders from Japan and African countries participating in the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), which opened today in Yokohama, said that the African Union Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development (AIDA) was crucial for the development of the continent.

The Chairperson of the African Union Assembly and Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, referring to the role of UNIDO, said that Africa should become “the next industrial frontier”. Over the past 10 years, the economic growth of Africa has reached 5 per cent, while economic forecasts continue to be promising, he said.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission, highlighted the relevance of AIDA and industrialization in general. “Africa’s renewed commitment to industrialization, and the development of diversified industrial capabilities must build on its key natural endowments to spur sustainable and equitable growth: addressing its infrastructure backlogs to improve regional trade and spatial development; revolutionizing agricultural production and agro-processing, and ensuring that the exploitation of African natural resources, especially its mineral resources, results in a fair sharing of the proceeds, are saved and invested in developing productivity capacity, and that mining contribute to industrial development through backward and forward linkages,” she said.

For the last two decades, UNIDO has been actively involved in TICAD. A UNIDO delegation, headed by Director General, Kandeh K. Yumkella, is taking part in this year’s event, and will organize several events, including one on clean technologies for Africa’s sustainable industrial development taking place today.

Acknowledging the leadership of the African Union Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan as UNIDO’s crucial partners, Yumkella said that industrialization was at the heart of creating jobs and incomes for the young people in Africa, and means of providing a decent life for all.

“But experience globally, and unfortunately also in selected cases in Africa, shows that industrialization without consideration for the environment did not and will not bring lasting benefits, as communities, often the weakest, are left with environmental legacies like land erosion, deforestation, and mine tailings,” said Yumkela.

He added that of particular concern at the global level were the likely impacts of climate change, of which early signs already appear at drastic scales, in particular in Africa. “However, let us not overlook the local problems, including pollution of land and water ways and industrial and chemical risks,” he said.

“Many of today’s environment, resource and climate concerns can be traced back to the inefficient use of natural resources. Materials, water and energy are being wasted throughout value chains. Our global economy has flourished over the decades from ever increasing productivity of labour, yet now is time for a paradigm shift. Labour is not in short supply, but resources and environment are, as we ultimately have only one planet Earth to provide currently 7 billion people, and many more in the foreseeable future,” added Yumkella.

“The key challenge is to do more with less, or decouple economic development from increased use of natural resources and wastes. This requires solutions that bring more wealth and health, goods and services, while using less materials, water and energy. Workable solutions for resource efficiency exist and can be applied in Africa, amongst others through the work of National Cleaner Production Centres. They typically involve the introduction of better environmental practices and clean technology, and at enterprise-level can bring attractive savings on operational costs. Yet, only few enterprises have followed suit, and concerted efforts are needed to scale up resource efficiency. The challenges remain significant, and in this regard we are glad to have the chance to discuss, here at TICAD, practical ways to scale up the transfer and deployment of clean technologies for sustainable industrial development in Africa,” said Yumkella.

At TICAD V, UNIDO will also hold side events on green growth and productivity enhancement, investment and technology promotion in Africa, as well as on youth and women employment.

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