#SDGs: Africa must Industrialize or…

By Ambassador Dr. Tal Edgars

“A little less conversation, a little more action” —

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg


Stakeholders including the African Union Commission (AUC), the Office of the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Africa (OSAA), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have voiced strong support for the industrialisation of Africa as a way forward to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

In a joint communiqué issued by the stakeholders, they stated that; “Africa has seen remarkable economic growth since the turn of the millennium. It has become the second fastest growing region in the world and continues on this path despite the persistent global economic slowdown. There is still need to accelerate annual economic growth to more than 7 per cent to effect real economic transformative growth.

“To be sustainable and inclusive, this progress must now be accompanied by structural transformation, which remains the only option to lift the people of Africa out of poverty”.

According to the stakeholders, to fully benefit from its rich natural resources and to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend, Africa must industrialize.

Heavily investing in the training and education of women and youth is indispensable. In order to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrialization, we must embark on a skills revolution particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics”, they added.

Indeed, the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and sustainable development goal 9 recognize the centrality of inclusive and sustainable industrialization for development.

In this context, the African leaders while speaking on “Operationalization of the 2030 Agenda for Africa’s Industrialization” called upon the international community to raise its financial support in line with Goal 9 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to back industrial and infrastructural projects underpinning this development, especially as articulated under Aspiration 1 of the Africa’s Agenda 2063, which calls for a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Specifically, they called upon the private sector to recognize Africa’s export and domestic market potential, and invited foreign investors to substantively increase their commitments to the continent.

They also called upon international organizations to provide industrial policy advice and technical cooperation programmes to enable African countries to implement their strategies and to forge stronger regional and inter-regional cooperation, while emphasizing the urgency for all countries to promote structural transformation, technological change and innovation.

Regional Economic integration, intra-African trade, increased foreign direct investment and official development assistance, and South-South and triangular cooperation will be fundamental pillars of this process. UNIDO’s new Programmes for Country Partnership, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Mining Vision and the Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA) are promising mechanisms for mobilizing multi-stakeholder coalitions to promote industrialization.

As also witnessed during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, and the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, emphasis should continue to be placed on inclusive economic growth and sustainable industrial development.

Now that the world has adopted the 2030 Agenda, we invoke all stakeholders to join forces and form a new global partnership for its implementation, particularly for the most vulnerable countries in Africa, including for the LDCs, the LLDCs and the SIDs. We need to seize this historical moment and take substantial steps collectively to achieve the transformative agenda of inclusive and sustainable industrial development for the benefit of all countries and their populations on the continent”.

*Ambassador Edgars is an AJF Honorary Advisor & Member to the Foundation Board of Advisors at Africa Justice Foundation. A multitalented business thinker, great networker and erudite speaker of note, he seats on the board of several companies as a strategist and business idealist. He has great interest in advisory work and board positions with high growth companies. An angel investor – 9 exits in 15 investments, with a 69.5% IRR on these 9 exits.

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