SPEECH FOR UNIDO@50 EVENT 21st NOVEMBER 2016
Partnership: African Industrialisation Day 2016: Financing in the Third Industrial Decade for Africa (IDDA3): Challenges and Winning Strategies
Dear Director General,
Honourable Ministers, Ambassadors and senior government officials,
Academics and Researchers,
Representatives from the private sector and civil society,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Firstly,congratulations UNIDO on your 50th anniversary. It is a pleasure to be here today to speak at this major milestone for one of this important international organisation. Hearing the Director General speak, one is reminded just how much UNIDO has achieved in the past half a century and the impact that UNIDO has had on the lives of people around the world. It is commendable and there is a lot to celebrate. I am therefore honoured to give this keynote address today.
UNIDO combines this spirit of international cooperation with specialised expertise in sustainable and inclusive industrialisation and private sector development. Its reach is truly global, working in countries from Senegal to China, creating prosperity through partnership and sustainable economic transformation.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
UNIDO’s 50th anniversary coincides with the beginning of a new era for industrial development cooperation in two ways: Firstly, the UN this year launched the 3rd Industrial Development Decade for Africa, which for the next 20 years will support African governments to take urgent action to promote industrial development and economic transformation to create jobs and reduce poverty. I would like to commend the leadership that UNIDO, and the Director General in particular, has showed to draw attention to the importance of industrialisation for achieving prosperity. I would also like to extend to UNIDO the firm commitment from the Government of Rwanda to support UNIDO in making this Decade a success.
Secondly, UNIDO’s 50th anniversary coincides with the beginning of the Sustainable Development Goals; the SDGs, and Agenda 2030. These goals herald a new era for the global development agenda and I am incredibly pleased to see a goal dedicated entirely to promoting sustainable and inclusive industrialisation.
This goal – SDG9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation – sets out clearly the global ambitions that we as stakeholders of sustainable development should be working towards. It also focuses our attention on two of the most important aspects for industrial development – namely infrastructure and innovation.
Infrastructure is a cornerstone of industrialisation. Access to high-quality supply of power and water is a prerequisite for production to happen, while roads, railways and air-links allow industries to access raw materials and bring their goods to market. Without good infrastructure, industrialisation is held back. The UN is therefore right to focus our attention on building adequate infrastructure that will last.
The UN is equally right to emphasise innovation. Throughout history, rapid industrialisation has been sparked by innovation and technological advances that have revolutionised production and made what was previously impossible, possible. From the early days of the first steam engines to modern 3D printing, innovation continues to push the world’s productive frontier and open up opportunities that previous generations could never have dreamed of.
Innovating for sustainable and inclusive industrialisation, however, must focus on the challenges faced by developing country industrial sectors. Many of the most revolutionary innovations that has propelled certain parts of the world towards prosperity has not always been well-suited for developing countries. Sometimes they may require extremely high levels of skills, very expensive equipment or other inputs which are not available in many developing countries.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage UNIDO to keep this in mind as they work towards achieving this 9th SDG: To achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development, we need innovation that is tailored to the needs of developing countries, innovation that helps us overcome the challenges we face. In the recent past we have begun to see some examples of this – mobile technology, drones and so on – and I am excited to see what we can achieve as we continue to work in this direction.
I am equally excited about the possibilities that innovation offers for increasing the efficiency of industrial sectors, which will reduce the amount of raw materials needed for industrial production. This is good for our environment and our planet, and ultimately necessary for achieving sustainability across the board. In Rwanda, we have begun to see some of the possibilities that industrial innovation offers for cleaner and more resource efficient production – and it is truly exciting.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Neither infrastructure nor innovation comes cheaply. The World Economic Forum estimates that the current infrastructure funding gap is $1tr per year, so ladies and gentlemen, the need for financing, which is our topic today, is huge. It is therefore with great sadness that I have seen what appears to be an abandonment by Development Partners of UNIDO. Financing for development often fluctuates over the decades as different themes become the word of the day and Industrial Development seems to have been left in the cold for a number of years now. It is my hope that the commencement of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa and the SDGs will reverse this trend; and let me again congratulate UNIDO for making the Decade a reality.
I also strongly urge all donors and development partners to review their funding positions, partner with UNIDO in line with the 17th SDG and allocate sufficient resources so that we may achieve the 9th SDG together. Infrastructure and innovation for industrial development is an area where public investments have the potential to be catalytic, both by leveraging private sector participation and by boosting economic growth and job creation. We can therefore not afford to let this trend of low financing continue and I look forward to hearing the discussion today about how we may go about reversing it.
In the meantime, I would also encourage UNIDO to prioritise your interventions, bearing in mind the limited resources that may be mobilised. One area UNIDO could do well to focus on is the provision of technical expertise to developing countries to design proper strategies for inclusive and sustainable industrial development and build capacity in relevant institutions to deliver efficient implementation of SDG9.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
UNIDO and Rwanda have a long history of close partnership, having worked together since 1986. In these 30 years, we have implemented more than 130 projects, covering entrepreneurship curriculum development, support to electronics industry, pharmaceutical production and small-scale agro-businesses as well as investment promotion techniques. Together, we have achieved average industrial growth of 9.5% over the past 15 years and we have seen the emergence of new exciting sectors such as garments production and electronics assembly. Industry now employs 429,000 Rwandans which is 15% of our labour force and a share that continues to rise and our work triggers economic transformation.
Rwanda’s current cooperation with UNIDO focuses on job creation through value addition and private sector development, which is closely aligned with the strategic priorities of the Rwandan government. Such close alignment has been a hallmark of UNIDO’s work in Rwanda in the past 30 years, something the Rwandan Government is truly grateful for and continue to look for as we continue to strengthen our partnership with UNIDO.
Dear Director General, indeed, it has not been long since I last had the pleasure of your company: Just this February this year we signed a new three-year UNIDO Country Programme for Rwanda. We had many fruitful discussions informed by all relevant stakeholders during your visit to Rwanda and I am confident our new partnership programme will be effective and impactful and that it will push Rwanda closer towards inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.
Over the next three years the Government of Rwanda will look to UNIDO for your usual standard of world-class expert advice as we continue to develop our industrial parks and work to attract investors in key strategic sectors. We will also look to UNIDO to continue your capacity building efforts of our National Industrial Research and Development Agency so that we may promote innovation that is tailored to Rwanda’s needs, as well as capacity building for our private sector to promote value addition, reduce wastage and increase efficiency and production across the board. Finally, we look to UNIDO for support to the Rwandan government to boost its renewable energy supply and promote productive use. These are big tasks, but tasks that UNIDO’s achievements in the 50 years demonstrate that UNIDO is more than capable of delivering.
Director General, our new country programme is ambitious – but it matches the size of the challenge. Rwanda’s and indeed Africa’s future prosperity depends on our ability to promote industrial development to create jobs and reduce poverty. If we are to achieve the other 16 Sustainable Development Goals, we much achieve SDG9, because without jobs and productive economies, how can we say we have achieved sustainable development? How can we say that our people will live in prosperity and free from poverty, if they cannot find productive and sustainable employment? Inclusive and sustainable industrial development is at the very heart of sustainable development and it is only by working together as closely and diligently as we have done in the past, that we can reach our shared vision of global prosperity set out by the SDGs.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me finish these remarks by again wishing UNIDO the most heartfelt congratulations on your 50th anniversary. Your achievements are commendable, even if the challenge ahead of us remains large. Let me also reiterate my commitment to continue working with UNIDO to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Rwanda and beyond. It is my wish that when we meet in 15 years’ time for UNIDO’s 65th anniversary in 2031 and we have reached the deadline for the SDGs, that we will be able to say: “What a challenge! But we did it.” With the commitment, clear directions and ambitious plans that we have set out already, if matched with adequate financing, I am confident that we will be able to say this, and I look forward to celebrate even greater accomplishments in the future than the already-great achievements that we will celebrate this week.
Thank you and happy birthday UNIDO!