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Statement By Antonio Pedro Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Statement By Antonio Pedro Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

November 23, 2022

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

An Africa that increasingly trades with itself in a diverse range of products is a credible option to build a resilient Africa that can withstand external shocks.

The continent has suffered more than other regions from the COVID-19 pandemic and from the impact of the conflict in Ukraine, in large part due to its excessive dependency on imports. On both occasions though, we have managed to find innovative solutions to reducing the negative impacts of the crises.

We have always known that Africa’s sustainable economic transformation requires an accelerated and sustainable industrialization.

It is high time that we learn the lessons fast, seize the opportunities inherent in these crises by diversifying our economic base, enhancing our research and development capacity, and investing in industrialization.

That way lies Africa’s renaissance.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The AfCFTA is a critical tool to support this transition.

It provides the continent with a blueprint for a faster and effective industrialization, by putting in place necessary conditions for transformational investment, diversification and sustainable development in Africa.

Industrialization is not an option for our continent; it is indeed an imperative. Simply put, by adding value to Africa’s natural and mineral resources here on the continent, we can turn the persistent bane of our resources into a persistent boon.

As we drive industrialization, we also need to realize that industrialization is not an event, but it is a process, and a long one at that.

 And, of course, we should be mindful that industrialization is not the business of Ministries of Industry alone. Instead, the implementation of true industrial policy requires a whole of government and beyond approach and action.

It requires aligning industrial, trade and other sectoral policies and putting science technology and innovation at the centre to ensure that we remain globally competitive beyond our initial endowments and comparative advantages.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Africa has the opportunity to pursue its industrialization in a green, inclusive and sustainable way.

It also has the opportunity to do so now, by utilizing all of its resources.

Africa possesses 60% solar irradiation in the world, 70% of cobalt global production and significant reserves of other battery minerals, world class carbon sink assets in our forests and peatlands, huge green hydrogen potential, to name a few.

These assets can position the continent to become a powerhouse and a globally competitive investment destination for multisectoral investments combining climate action, job creation and industrialization.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We often dedicate significant time and resources to attract foreign direct investment.

However, equally important, we should put significant efforts in creating favorable conditions that promote domestic investment and investors facilitating an emergence of more African captains of industry.

Let us not be naïve.

Achieving our strategic goals in line with the aspirations of Agenda 2063 will require leadership, common action and geo-strategic engagement that is focused and well targeted; in which we use our bargaining power effectively, the implementation of the AU commodity strategy being a case in point.

In closing, I would like to affirm that the entire UN system at the global, continental, subregional and national level is fully committed to supporting the AU in achieving Africa’s sustainable and inclusive industrialization and economic diversification.

I thank you very much for your kind attention.

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