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November 20: conscious industrialization for an Africa that looks to a sustainable future

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Generally, when thinking about Africa, the mind almost automatically relates it to the concept of the Third World. In fact, over the years, the identity and autonomy of this continent have been checkered and intrinsically linked to scenarios of slavery and exploitation, and poverty.

It is precisely with this in mind that, in 1989 in Addis Ababa, during the so-called "Second Decade of Industrial Development forAfrica"(1991-2000), the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 20 the "World Day of Industrialization of Africa'".

On this occasion, national governments and international organizations, NGOs and all interested stakeholders were offered the opportunity to analyze initiatives aimed at promoting industrial development in the African continent.

An urgent need for change

To date, according to Stephen Ekokobe Awung, economic underdevelopment in Africa is caused by several factors, among which the lack of infrastructure, of adequate communication between ethnic groups due to linguistic diversity, and the frequency of military conflicts and cases of corruption. However, it is certainly nothing new that the economic deficit of a country is also linked to social and governmental instability; it is no coincidence, therefore, that the United Nations' aim in launching Africa towards positive economic growth and thus towards structural transformation is to address the issue of industrialization from the perspective of inclusiveness and, consequently, sustainability.

20-24 November 2021: African Industrialization Week

The main macro-themes of the summit organized for 2021 will be three:

  1. The work of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and its effects on industrialization;

  2. Covid-19 as a driver of industrialization;

  3. the Third Decade of Industrial Development for Africa (IDDA III) in relation to industrialization.

Analyzing these points, it is clear that in this complex equation the constant is industrialization, but what needs to be specified is that the result must be a multi-sectoral and multi-directional project, useful not only for increasing economic growth rates, but also to diversify the African economy itself. But now let us delve into the aforementioned issues.

First, the AfCFTA aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa, contributing to the creation of an integrated economy among the 54 member states. The aim is to implement the work of some key sectors, such as the energy-technology one, green industrialization, finance and education, to meet the objectives of the 2063 Agenda, a project aimed at the sustainable transformation of the African continent into the global powerhouse of the future.

With regard to the second point, the Covid-19 pandemic has clearly created an economic and health crisis around the world, but at the same time, for Africa, this situation could represent a turning point. In fact, this circumstance has contributed to bringing out the limits of international trade and therefore to making evident the need for the continent to create a commercial network that is independent and resilient at the local, regional and national levels. The ideal dynamic would be to be able to trigger the birth of a thriving network of small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the territory.

Finally, the Third Decade of Industrial Development for Africa (2016-2025) envisages a rejuvenation of the industrialization program in a Pan-African key, which takes into account the emerging political, economic and social dynamics. In this regard, Goal 9 of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development fits perfectly, as it promotes the construction of solid infrastructures to counter structural challenges and encourage innovation and equitable industrial progress.

In concrete terms

One of the major bodies working to make this improvement plan come true is certainly the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which, is gradually giving a concrete contribution to the cause. Among the most important initiatives, the project in Sierra Leone in collaboration with local entrepreneurs to strengthen the ability to adapt to climate change and the country's water, agricultural and energy sectors.

Ultimately, although in today's industrialized world the goal for Africa is still far away, "even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step"(Laozi) and, with this goal in mind, Ca'Foscari for SDGs is working hard to bring to light these issues that are as current as they are touchy, towards which even the help of the individual counts.

If YOU, the reader, also would like to make your contribution, then try starting here: get your ideas flowing and put yourself to the test! Only in this way, together, will we be able to promote development cooperation for an inclusive and sustainable future world.


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