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24 November 2010: Africa Industrialization Day marked in Vienna

[Dateline: Vienna | Author: UN Information Service Vienna ]

The heads of two Vienna-based UN organizations joined more than 300 participants to mark Africa Industrialization Day   on 20 November at an event organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization   (UNIDO).

The symposium and reception focused on the role of agro-industries for the development of Africa and was attended by the Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV) Yury Fedotov, the Director-General of UNIDO Kandeh K. Yumkella, representatives from the private sector, the diplomatic community, and staff members from UNIDO and UNOV.

Mr. Fedotov presented the message of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saying the theme for the day - "competitive industries for the development of Africa" underlined "the need to increase international cooperation in order to unleash the continent's potential." The message goes on: "We know that processing Africa's agricultural and mineral resources will yield higher-value products that can help integrate the continent into the global economy. Our collective challenge is to assist Africa in building capacity to do this." 

The huge internal market within Africa was highlighted by Patrick Kormowa, Officer-in-Charge of the Agri-business Development Branch of UNIDO. By 2030, he said that African demand in agricultural products was estimated to rise to US$150 billion, arguing that this development offers huge investment opportunities in the agricultural sector.

UNIDO and partners have a number of programmes in place to enhance the development of the sector, among them technical assistance programmes and an agribusiness investment fund. UNIDO also supports the African Union's plan for Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA).

Mr. Yumkella advocated for green growth. "It is possible to industrialize and be ecological friendly," he said. He noted in particular the importance of developing triangular co-operations as already recognized by the G-20.

UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador and Chairman of the Senegalese Investment Company Mansour Cama said that despite the economic crisis, Africa's economy had a growth rate of five per cent, and that next year a 5.5 per cent growth rate was expected. Investment was needed not just in industry but also in infrastructure. Mr. Cama emphasized it was worth taking investment risks because the return rate was very high. "Agri-business is growing. It will be the driving engine for the economy in Africa," he said.

The symposium was followed by a well attended reception featuring African food and music.