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    UNIS/OUS/148
    4 June 2012

    Re-issued as received

    UNIDO and AU conference to promote economic diversification and manufacturing in Africa

    ADDIS ABABA/VIENNA, 4 June (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) - A conference on strategies to promote economic diversification in Africa, with a focus on investment in the agribusiness and pharmaceutical sectors, is starting today in the Ethiopian capital. The two-day event has been organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the African Union Commission.

    "Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, can do much more to add value to farm production," said Wilfried Luetkenhorst, UNIDO Managing Director. "The region's insufficient capacity to produce and process agro-industrial commodities limits the scope for industrialization and means countries are missing opportunities to create jobs."

    Luetkenhorst added, "The pharmaceutical sector can become another strategic sector. Local production of generic medicines promises affordability and availability of needed drugs, employment opportunities and overall public health benefits."

    The organizers expect the two-day conference will promote investment collaboration between African companies and companies from both developed and emerging economies, and provide a forum for business-to-business linkages among stakeholders, particularly private sector companies.

    The ultimate goal is to bring together companies operating in the agribusiness and pharmaceutical sectors in Africa with a view to agreeing on specific and practical measures to promote economic diversification.

    The conference will promote South-South cooperation, examine technical cooperation funding opportunities, and help develop a business-to-business platform to better expose African companies in both sectors.

    The conference is a follow-up to the 19th Conference of African Ministers of Industry, in March 2011, where there was a consensus on the need to focus on agro- and pharmaceutical industries in order to accelerate industrial development in Africa.

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    For more information on the Conference, please go here:

    http://www.unido.org/index.php?id=1002613

    For more information on UNIDO, please contact:

    Mikhail Evstafyev
    UNIDO Advocacy and Communications Coordinator
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26026-5021
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-7329
    Email: M.Evstafyev[at]unido.org