UNIDO Director General attends launch of Continental Free Trade Area

UNIDO Director General attends launch of Continental Free Trade Area

KIGALI, 22 March 2018 – LI Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has travelled to Rwanda to attend the launch of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Africa Business Summit .

During the Africa Business Summit breakfast meeting held on 20 March 2018 on the theme; “Made in Africa: AfCFTA and Africa’s Structural Transformation”, LI Yong put emphasis on structural transformation, which can be largely attained through manufacturing and value addition. He also highlighted the importance of enhanced trade capacities, renewable energy development and energy efficiency for the successful implementation of the AfCFTA. Referring to the need to take into account key features of Industry 4.0, including artificial intelligence, robotics and Big Data he said that “these technologies are bringing about a paradigm shift that profoundly changes the way we work, live and interact.” He also touched on the importance of innovative partnership approaches, such as UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership, to achieve higher development impact.

LI Yong signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Union Commission (AUC), represented by the Commissioner of Industry, Trade and Minerals of the AUC, Albert Muchanga, on the margins of the Africa Business Summit. He emphasized that the MoU represented a significant step towards an even stronger partnership between UNIDO and the AUC in various areas related to inclusive and sustainable development.

During the launch of AfCFTA, which took place at the Extraordinary Meeting of the African Union Heads of State and Government on 21 March, DG Li delivered a congratulatory message where he underscored the importance of the AfCFTA. Li said that “the AfCFTA represents a major milestone towards intra-African trade and socio-economic development and is expected to have a profound developmental impact in Africa.” He highlighted that UNIDO is ready to support the AfCFTA implementation through technical assistance to the African Union and its Member States in various areas related to regional integration, trade, and industrial development.

The AfCFTA creates a very large free trade area with 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion. It is expected to significantly drive up intra-Africa trade and contribute towards Africa’s industrial transformation and prosperity as envisaged in African Union Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.

Several meetings with high-level government officials were also held on the margins of the AfCFTA events including with Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire, and Macky Sall, President of Senegal. DG Li also discussed UNIDO’s enhanced cooperation with the president of the Africa Import and Export Bank.

Past achievements and the future prospects for further collaboration between the Government of Rwanda and UNIDO were discussed during a meeting held with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka.

For further information, please contact:

Matilda Muweme, Africa Division Programme Officer, UNIDO