UN chief stresses 'mutually supportive' nature of Africa's free trade and industrialization

Industrialization is a primary driver of economic growth and job creation, and will be pivotal in efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, says UN secretary general António Guterres.

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Investments in infrastructure, promoting green technologies and low-carbon solutions will be critical in strengthening African institutions, says Guterres. Image: Jacey Fortin,CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Africa’s industrial development and proposed continental free trade would complement each other, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday, marking the UN-proclaimed day for Africa’s industrialization.

“This year’s Africa Industrialization Day highlights the links between industrial developmentand Africa’s moves towards establishing a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA),” Mr. Guterres said in his message for the Day.

“These are mutually supportive endeavours,” he added, reaffirming that the continued strong commitment of the United Nations to support Africa’s industrialization, the implementation of a continental free trade agreement, and the building of inclusive, resilient, peaceful and prosperous societies for all.

It will also be critical to unleash the capacities of Africa’s young people and to strengthen African institutions.

António Guterres, secretary-general, United Nations

Mr. Guterres stressed that industrialization is a primary driver of economic growth and job creation, and will be pivotal in efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Africa Union’s ‘Agenda 2063.’

He also highlighted the importance of making strategic investments in cross-border infrastructure, promoting green technologies and low-carbon solutions, fostering small and medium enterprises, and forging partnerships to spur innovation and create incentives to power sustainable growth.

“It will also be critical to unleash the capacities of Africa’s young people and to strengthen African institutions,” he said, as both the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 recognize these imperatives.

In 1989, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 20 November Africa Industrialization Day.

This year’s theme is ‘African Industrial Development: A Pre-Condition for an Effective and Sustainable Continental Free Trade Area.’

On Monday, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is holding panel discussions in Vienna and New York to increase awareness of the importance of inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Africa for the success of the CFTA and structural transformation more broadly.

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