Lopes makes case for green growth in Africa

Addis Ababa, 13 April, 2016 – The 2016 Economic Report on Africa has been launched in New York with Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes of the Economic Commission for Africa saying Africa can industrialize like other regions in the world have done but in a cleaner and inclusive way.

Entitled Greening Africa’s Industrialization, the report provides governments on the continent with policy recommendations on why it is important for Africa to industrialize and how.

“What we are trying to demonstrate with this report is that yes we can do a different type of industrialization by pursuing inclusive green development, by taking advantage of new technological innovations and others, including Africa’s vast natural resources,” Lopes told diplomats, journalists and others who gathered to witness the launch of the ECA’s flagship report at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Mr. Lopes said the report, besides helping African governments with greening policy suggestions, it also helps the ECA in its efforts to help change the narrative on Africa that most of the times is all doom and gloom.

“One of the misperceptions is one that relates to the possibility of industrialization in Africa,” said the Executive Secretary.
“People would say well, a latecomer like Africa, can it really industrialize and immediately associate that to another narrative which is; it has been tried before in the 70s and it didn’t go very well so why is it that Africa is now going to do it again?”

On the other hand, he said, international financial institutions argue Africa should instead concentrate on diversifying its economy.

“Diversification does not equate to industrialization because it should be more or less markets implicitly that will determine what kind of diversification makes sense for each country,” said Mr. Lopes.

Also available at the launch were the 20 country profiles launched last week by the ECA and 10 other thematic reports.
“What we are trying to do is basically changing the narrative and making sure people understand Africa in a different way,”
Mr. Lopes said as he explained the advantages of greening Africa’s economy.

He said Africa can leapfrog nations that have already industrialized to become the champion and forerunner through green industrialization.

“This report demonstrates that it’s not just a nice proposition to industrialize; it’s actually fundamentally right and makes sense to do so in a cleaner and cheaper way,” he said.

He urged African leaders to be bold in making meaningful changes towards green industrialization, adding an enabling environment rooted in strong governance, financial resources, technological capacity and a skills revolution will help change the face of Africa.

Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Erasmus Mwencha, also spoke at the launch. He said African countries will mainstream the policy suggestions in the report into their national developmental agendas, adding some of the recommendations go hand in hand with the continent’s development plan, Agenda 2063, and the sustainable development goals.

“The transformation of Africa is a must,” he said. “Without which we will continue to see the challenges we see today with massive migration and in our health and agricultural sectors, among others. To help drive the green industrialization process, we also need a skills revolution in Africa.”

UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa Maged Abdelaziz applauded the ECA for focusing on industrialization in the past four years.

“It is no coincidence that these reports have focused on industrialization,” he said. “Their focus reflects the growing realization that industrialization in Africa is the key to creating jobs, eradicating poverty, unleashing innovation,” he said.
Industrialization, Mr. Maged Abdelaziz said, has been the ‘most elusive element of the continent’s growth’ hence the report provides an opportunity for Africa’s leaders to pursue the economic transformation of their respective countries through green industrialization.

Issued by:
Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826
E-mail: ecainfo@uneca.org