Press Releases

    UNIS/INF/300
    20 November 2008

    Re-issued as received

    Processing Raw Materials for Industrial Growth and Development

    Africa Industrialization Day 2008

    VIENNA, 20 November (UN Information Service) - The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 20 November as Africa Industrialization Day. The annual event is meant to create global awareness and mobilize the commitment of the international community for Africa's industrialization efforts, and to assess the progress made in this direction; bringing together African leaders, the continent's private sector, civil society and the United Nations system. It also serves as a reminder of the huge challenge the continent faces, given that most of the world's least developed countries are in Africa.

    This year's theme "Processing raw materials for industrial growth and development" emphasizes, for Africa, the crucial need for enhanced raw material transformation into manufactured products. To date Africa's trade in raw material products has not yielded desired results necessary for an industrial development process that would ultimately be able to contribute to poverty reduction. Most of the people on the continent continue to live on less than one dollar a day. Given this fact, Africa cannot afford to remain a primary commodity producer. Experience of the newly industrialized countries has clearly shown the benefits and impact that trade in manufactured commodities can have on industrial and economic development as a whole. Based on this knowledge and building on its recent positive economic growth rates, which have averaged around 5.5 per cent in the last years, mostly as a result of commodity price booms, Africa has to seriously take up the challenge of enhancing its manufacturing industry which currently contributes a mere 1 per cent to global manufacturing.

    On the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day 2008, a short symposium to reflect on this theme will be held at UNIDO headquarters in Vienna and will be attended by representatives of the international community. An eminent practitioner in the field of raw material transformation, Dr. Godfrey Nzamujo, Director of the Songhai Center of Benin, will be a guest speaker. The Songhai Center is an institution for training, production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices, aiming at augmenting the standard of living of Africa's populations. At six locations all over Benin, young agricultural entrepreneurs are trained to create viable agricultural enterprises.

    Statements will also be delivered on this occasion, on behalf of the Executive Heads of the African Union, the Economic Commission for Africa and UNIDO, as well as of the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly. H.E. Ms. Grace Tsitsi Mutandiro, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to UNIDO will deliver a statement on behalf of the African Group. Celebrations will also take place all over Africa and in UNIDO's offices in New York, Geneva, Brussels, as well as in the Russian Federation, organized by the Union of African Diplomats.

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    Note for editors

    UNIDO is a specialized agency of the United Nations system that works towards improving the quality of life of the world's poor by helping countries achieve sustainable industrial development. UNIDO views industrial development as a means of creating employment and income to overcome poverty. It helps developing countries and economies in transition to produce goods they can trade on the global market. It also helps provide the tools - training, technology, and investment - to make them competitive. At the same time, it encourages production processes that will neither harm the environment nor place too heavy a burden on a country's limited energy resources. UNIDO has 172 Member States and has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. See also www.unido.org

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    For more information please contact:

    Massata Cisse
    Chief, Africa Programme, UNIDO
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26026-3060
    Email: M.Cisse@unido.org