NEW YORK, 25 September 2019 – The third high-level event on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) discussed strategies and policies to leverage global partnerships in support of inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Africa, taking into account the challenges and opportunities afforded by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR. In particular, 4IR offers Africa completely new business models and lower production costs, which would improve productivity and competitiveness.
Following a video message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in which he stressed the critical importance of IDDA III to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNIDO Director General LI Yong welcomed the high-level participants representing governments, development finance institutions, UN agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia. “Africa must leapfrog to take advantage of the 4IR opportunities; there is a positive momentum on which we must build upon”, said Li. “However, and despite the recorded progress, bottlenecks persist that must be addressed to unleash 4IR’s full potential for Africa”.
The event was attended by two head of sates and one vice-president, who reaffirmed their support for IDDA III. Guinea’s President, Alpha Condé reiterated in his statement, his government’s support for IDDA III and the crucial role of innovation in the continent’s development efforts. Also, the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu, highlighted the importance to strengthen partnerships on the global, regional and national level in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development. Vice-President of Côte d’Ivoire, Daniel Kablan Duncan, emphasized the need to advance digitalization on the African continent and the need for investment in the areas of innovation and infrastructure.
African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert M. Muchanga stated that resources mobilized under IDDA III will be deployed to show ordinary Africans real ‘on the ground’ benefits – through decent employment and access to high-quality, safe and affordable manufactured goods. Noting that skills development is crucial for the promotion of innovation and technology in the continent, Afreximbank President Benedict Okey Oramah acknowledged that Africa’s lack of skills is one of the continent’s most enduring challenges. Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of Bureau of Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU highlighted that African countries must undertake bold and innovative approaches, focusing on education and skills.
While all speakers agreed that investments in physical and digital infrastructure – especially in key sectors such as health, agribusiness, education, water and sanitation – are of utmost importance to unlock Africa’s full potential, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina touched upon the importance of bridging infrastructure gaps and digitalizing economies across the continent. UNECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe mentioned the continent’s opportunities to alleviate poverty through industrialization, with economic growth being inclusive. Mr. Ali Mufuruki, Vice-Chair of the Afro-Champions Club, highlighted the need for policy-makers to radically change the way they look at innovation, economic management and Industrialization especially in the area of agri-business value chains.
All participants acknowledged the potential impact of the emergence of advanced technologies on the industrialization of Africa; acknowledging the momentum gathered from the IDDA III implementation, the high-level event reiterated its call for enhanced strategic partnerships towards collective actions with financial institutions and the business sector to leverage additional resources for infrastructure, industry and innovation as well as for knowledge, expertise and technology.
The event, which took place on the margins of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, was co-organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Afro Champions Initiative and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).