Secretary-General's Message on Africa Industrialization Day (20 November 2015)

In recent years, many countries in Africa have experienced significant economic growth and progress in human development.  However, inclusive and sustainable industrial development remains elusive.  Youth unemployment and gender inequity jeopardize the continent’s efforts to eradicate poverty.

The private sector in Africa contributes to a projected 80 per cent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product and supports an estimated 90 per cent of all jobs.  Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have a pivotal role to play in the industrial development of Africa.  Nevertheless, opportunities for youth and women generated by SMEs are limited, thus failing to harness the full entrepreneurial potential of the continent.  This means less capacity for transformative socio-economic development, innovation and value addition.

I welcome the theme for this year’s Africa Industrialization Day: “SMEs for Poverty Eradication and Job Creation for Women and Youth”.  Africa needs to invest in training and education for women and youth to industrialize, grow the private sector and achieve sustainable development.  SMEs can provide a solid foundation for sustained economic growth, job creation and poverty eradication. 

The important contribution of inclusive and sustainable industrialization in helping Africa to overcome its critical development challenges is clearly recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by United Nations Member States in September.  On this year’s Africa Industrialization Day, I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to enhance Africa’s SME sector and stimulate economic opportunities for women and youth to promote the continent’s progress towards economically enriched, socially inclusive and prosperous societies.