Africa Industrialisation Week: Trade Commissioner outlines the continent’s industrial development plans

Mr. Albert Muchanga, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry at the African Union Commission

Mr. Albert Muchanga, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry at the African Union Commission yesterday revealed the continent’s industrial development plan while officially opening the Africa Industrialisation Week 2020.

The start of Africa Industrialization Week yesterday will lead to the commemoration of  Africa Industrialization Day on 20th November 2020 for the High-Level Session to be presided by His Excellency Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger and Leader and Champion of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The Africa Industrialization Day was chosen by African leaders and the United Nations in 1989 in recognition of the need for the continent to undertake annual stock-taking on the journey of industrialization.

It was also proclaimed to enhance public awareness of the importance of industrialization in the structural transformation of the African economies.

Since 2018, week-long activities of dialogue, networking, and exhibitions have been held.

The 2019 edition included the Africa-Korea Business Forum and Exhibition as well as a high level session, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre which focused on the mainstreaming of women in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The 2020 edition was planned to lead to the African Union Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification with physical participation by delegates in Niamey, Niger.

Following advice from the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention not to proceed with in-person interactions in order to avoid community spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Summit has been postponed to 2021.

Commissioner Muchanga said it is for the same reason that the 13th and 14th Extraordinary Sessions of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State on the African Continental Free Trade Area and Silencing the Guns respectively scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa have also been transformed into virtual Summits.

It is also for the same reason that this year’s commemoration of Africa Industrialization Week is virtual meetings. 

With emerging developments on vaccines for fighting the COVID-19 infections as well as the development of apps for safe travel, Commissioner Muchanga was confident that there shall be physical meetings during the 2021 edition of Africa Industrialization Week. 

“As we commemorate Africa Industrialization Week, we should also remember that at the level of the United Nations, we have since, 2016 embarked on the implementation of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa which will run from that year up to 2025 to complement the implementation of the Action Plan on Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa.  In addition, the African Union Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are aligned by a common reporting template.

“Partnerships are key to leveraging synergies. In this year’s edition of Africa Industrialization Week, there will be participants drawn from the United Nations headquarters to be represented by the Deputy Secretary-General in the High-Level Session; the European Commission; the International Trade Centre; Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area; United Nations Industrial Development Organization; United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, AUDA-NEPAD; Afro-Champions Initiative; Coalition for Dialogue on Africa; bilateral partners like the Republic of Korea with whom we held the Africa-Korea Business Forum yesterday as part of the commemoration of the Africa Industrialization Week,” Commissioner Muchanga said.

In the Regional Economic Communities, there are industry players from both within and outside Africa, academics, civil society representatives, women, and the youth.

Commissioner Muchanga emphasized the importance of involving the Member States in the commemoration of Africa Industrialization Week.

“If technological capabilities for industrialization in Africa have to take root, we have to fully involve. It is the Member States who will domesticate the action plan on Accelerated Development in Africa as well as the Third United Nations Industrial Development Decade for Africa.  In this respect, we will fully mobilize the Member States to fully take part in future editions of Africa Industrialization Week.”

He said the AU recognizes the importance of trade liberalization and economic integration in facilitating industrialization by capturing it in this year’s theme of Africa Industrialization Week. 

The ASEAN Member States, together with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea signed the agreement establishing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The membership accounts for a third of the global population and gross domestic product, making it the world’s biggest trading bloc since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.

He said the task at hand is to make the African Continental Free Trade Area work.

“The starting point is for all 55 African Union Member States to sign and ratify the AfCFTA Agreement by 5th December 2020.  This should be followed by the completion of all outstanding work for the start of trading under the AfCFTA on 1st January 2021,” he added.

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