Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the international community to strengthen partnership that will drive industrialisation in Africa and create jobs and sustainable opportunities for youths, women and all people to enjoy better social and economic well being.
He also urged the UN to partner African nations on job and wealth creation “as a means to ensuring global peace and security.”
Delivering a keynote ad¬dress at the Africa Industri¬alisation Day at the United Nations Office in New York recently, Okowa said beyond creating awareness of the challenges of industrialisation in Africa, the forum should address the need for, “firm commitments to strengthen partnerships that will drive industrialisation in Africa, cre¬ate jobs and sustainable op¬portunities for youths, women and all people to enjoy better social and economic well-being.”
The Africa Industrialisation Day is celebrated on Novem¬ber 20 every year under the auspices of the United Na¬tions Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, to mobilise the commitment of the international community to the industrialisation of Af¬rica. The theme for this year’s event was, “SMEs for Poverty Eradication and Job Creation for Women and Youth.”
At a symposium to mark the day, Okowa commended “UNIDO’s passion and dedi-cation to spurring Africa’s industrialisation,” pointing out that the occasion, “is a re-minder to all of us, of the need to redirect Africa’s economic development position from being a global supplier of raw materials and primary com¬modities to one with progres¬sive value addition through agro-processing, agro-indus¬trialisation and beneficiation of solid minerals.
“SMEs are engines for cost-effective employment generation, social inclusion, equitable development and self-reliant industrialisation using local raw materials,” he said. The Governor lamented that objectives have not flour¬ished in Africa due to “fund¬ing gaps, infrastructure deficit, energy problems and poor governance structures.”
Okowa informed the global audience that Nigeria’s policies through suc¬cessive administrations have revolved around the growth and development of SMEs as catalysts for economic de¬velopment. According to him, “the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Bank of In¬dustry, BoI and Small and Medium Enterprises Devel¬opment Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, are frantically taking measures to enhance the performance and growth of youth and women-owned micro and small enterprises through a host of concessional financing initiatives spanning equity, debt financing, loan guarantees and grants.
“In Delta State where I am Governor, we have devel¬oped a roadmap to engage our youths and women in produc¬tive enterprises and ensure in¬clusive growth. Our strategic approach is a comprehensive programme of youth training, development and empower¬ment in agricultural enterpris¬es and vocational skills, mi¬crocredit to support small and medium scale enterprises, and the creation of a conducive business and investment envi¬ronment.
“Also, we are under¬taking concerted measures for the integration of agricultural and agro-industrial develop¬ment based on our compara¬tive-advantage commodities, particularly cassava, oil palm and aquaculture.”

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