Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message for African Industrialization Day, to be observed 20 November:
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 (GDP) 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 small and medium-enterprises are limited, thus failing to harness the full entrepreneurial potential of the continent. This means less capacity for transformative socioeconomic 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. Small and medium-enterprises 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 small and medium-enterprise sector and stimulate economic opportunities for women and youth to promote the continent's progress towards economically enriched, socially inclusive and prosperous societies.
SOURCE Secretary-General of the United Nations