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01. Dezember 2015

AFRICAN GROUP STATEMENT DELIVERED BY THE CHAIR OF THE AFRICAN GROUP, AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION, DURING THE SIXTEENTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE OF UNIDO, 1 DECEMBER 2015, VIENNA

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Madame President,

I congratulate you, on behalf of the African Group on your election as the President of this session of the General Conference. The Group would like to assure you of its support as you steer the conference to a successful conclusion.

The African Group also thanks the Director General, Mr Li Yong for his opening address in which he highlighted key activities undertaken by UNIDO since our last meeting in Lima, in 2013. The Group further wishes to thank the Secretariat for the excellent arrangements for the conference.

The Group aligns itself with the statement of the G77 and China.

Madame President,

This conference takes place at a significant historical moment. As we are aware, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations (UN). For us in Africa, it is also the 25th anniversary since the launch, in 1990,  of the Africa Industrialization Day (AID) by the United Nations General Assembly. The Africa Industrialization Day was specifically designated to mobilize the commitment of the international community to the industrialization of Africa.

Given this important epoch in history, we are thus called upon to reflect on progress made over the last decades towards achieving what the drafters  of the UN Charter pledged 70 years ago which was: “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.

Indeed there is no doubt that there has been progress towards promoting socio-economic development and removing millions of people from poverty across the globe. However, much more still needs to be done and UNIDO’s role in this regard is more crucial than ever before.

It is in this context that the African Group has welcomed the recent adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In particular, the Group commends UNIDO’s role in actively advocating for the inclusion of a goal which focuses on inclusive and sustainable industrial development, Goal 9. It is the Group’s belief that this Goal has inserted inclusive and sustainable industrial development at the center of the global development agenda.

Madame President,

The African Group is pleased that under DG Li Yong, UNIDO continues to give priority to Africa. Despite steady progress recorded in improving the continent’s social and economic development profile in recent decades, a challenge of underdevelopment still remains acute. As you are all aware, 34 of the 48 Least Developed Countries are in Africa. 

Unemployment, inequality and poverty still remain stubbornly high. Economic growth is thus critical to the development of this region and the African continent. For example one area that requires urgent attention is the issue of energy which is the life blood of any economy. In sub-Saharan Africa 620 million people (two thirds of the population) are without electricity, yet the energy resources in this region are enough to meet the region’s energy needs. Thus investment in energy infrastructure is pivotal to Africa’s industrialization efforts and UNIDO’s partnership in this regard is crucial.

Madame President,

The African Group believes that the introduction of the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) launched by UNIDO in 2014 is an innovative programme delivery vehicle through which UNIDO is able to provide integrated support to its members and enhance their capacities to implement their respective industrial development strategies. The Group particularly welcomes the fact that the first two pilot countries: Ethiopia and Senegal are from the African Continent. Although the Group recognizes that it is still early days since the implementation of the PCP programmes in these countries, the Group looks forward to an assessment of the impact of this intervention at an appropriate time, with a view to share lessons learnt and best practices with other countries, both in the region and beyond.

The African Group wishes to underscore that the success of the PCP and many other programmes and projects on the continent depends on the mobilization of requisite resources. It is for this reason that the African Group has welcomed the convening, in Addis Ababa in July this year, of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. Similarly, the Group welcomed the hosting, in the margins of this conference, of the Third Forum on “Financing for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development” by the Governments of Ethiopia and Senegal, supported by both UNIDO and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Madame President

During the June session of the IDB a discussion ensued on the future of the Special Resources for Africa (SRA), in view of the declining resources of UNIDO. After extensive discussions and consultations with the African Group it was agreed that the SRA should be retained with a budget of 1 million euros from the regular budget and to earmark voluntary contributions to match or exceed the previous levels of SRA. The Group looks forward to further discussions on how this facility can be enhanced with a view to ensuring sustainable and reliable funding for approved projects on the continent.

Madame President

The Group expresses its appreciation to UNIDO for organising the high level event on 26 September 2015 in New York, titled ‘operationalization of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development in Africa’. This event was attended by high-level participants from the continent, including Heads of State and Government. The African Group looks forward to enhanced cooperation between UNIDO and the African continent in the context of implementing the continent’s development plan  Agenda 2063: the Africa we Want – which seeks to build an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.

The African Group further welcomes the outcome of the recently concluded Least Developed Countries Ministerial Conference and commends UNIDO for its continued role in integrating the Istanbul Plan of Action (IPoA) in its programmes and activities.

Madame President

With regards to the documents submitted before this conference for adoption, the Group would like to comment as follows:

The African Group supports the adoption of the Medium-Term Programme Framework (MTPF) 2016-2019. The Group is of the view that the programmatic objectives and priorities of the MTPF are aligned to UNIDO’s core mandate of reducing poverty through inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

The African Group further supports the adoption of the Programme and Budgets 2016-2017, as recommended by the IDB.  The Group notes with concern the large sum of arrears still owed by former Member States and requests the Secretariat to continue approaching the concerned States to settle the outstanding amounts.

The Group further notes the impact of the withdrawal by some member states from the organisation and the impact of such withdrawal on its budget. The Group wishes to appeal to all current members to remain in UNIDO and strengthen this organisation so that it fulfils its historic mission. 

With regards to the Action Plan on UNIDO’s Field Policy and Network contained in the document GC.16/6, the African Group is of the view that the implementation of the proposed action plan should not negatively impact on the visibility of UNIDO and the TC delivery in the field.

In this regard, the Group urges the Secretariat to continue its efforts, in close consultations with Member States, especially those directly affected, and to align UNIDO’s field capacities with its expected role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, taking into account the expansion of the Programme for Country Partnerships.

In conclusion, the Group takes note of the on-going Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris. Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate changes because of the range of projected impacts, multiple stresses and low adaptive capacity. Such vulnerability has the potential to impede on the continent’s industrial development prospects. The African Group looks forward to a positive outcome of this conference, which could be integrated, with the on-going work of UNIDO in mitigating the impact of climate change in Africa.

I thank you.

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