Daily Trust Abuja Mni Issa Aremu
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

Africa Industrialization Day (AID) is marked on the 20th November each year as declared by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The global theme this year is: “Financing industrialization in Africa: Challenges and winning strategies”. It would be recalled that within the framework of the Second Industrial Development Decade for Africa (1991-2000), the UN General Assembly, in 1989, proclaimed 20 November Africa Industrialization Day via resolution 44/237). The Day is intended to mobilize the commitment of the international community to the industrialization of Africa.

The important contribution of inclusive and sustainable industrialization in helping Africa to overcome its critical development challenges is also recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In particular, Sustainable Development Goal 9 calls to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. The objective of Africa Industrialization Day this year is to raise awareness on the challenges and opportunities in financing for industrialization, taking into consideration recent success stories and elaborating on how to further galvanize support for promoting Africa’s industrialization.

IndustriALL is a Global Union formed on 19 June 2012 that organizes 50 million workers worldwide. IndustriALL strives to achieve a number of objectives that include Building stronger unions and Promoting industrial policy and sustainability. Nigerian affiliate unions are National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), National Union of petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), National Union of Chemical Footwear, Rubber Leather and Non Metallic Products Employees (NUCFLAMPE), Chemical and Non Metallic Products Senior Staff Association (CANMPSSAN), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN). Within the global theme of financing Industrialuzation in Africa, the affiliate unions are focusing on the sub-theme; BACK TO BASICS: REVIVAL OF BASIC INDUSTRIES (TEXTILES, MINING, IRON AND STEEL, OIL AND GAS) AND CREATION OF SUSTAINABLE EMPLOYMENT.

AID is a day when Governments and other development organizations in African countries generate fresh ideas to stimulate and consolidate on Africa’s industrialization process. The day offers the affiliates of IndustriALL, to advance the goal of the global union to Ensure Sustainable Industrial development. In Africa, the focus is on how to promote beneficiation and transform abundant agricultural and natural resources to finished manufactured goods through valued added production and massive job creation. In Nigeria since 2012 the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) has joined forces with other affiliates of IndustriALL to organize policy dialogue meetings with critical stakeholders including manufacturers, Government agencies and development partners like UNIDO to discuss the critical ideas for accelerating industrial manufacturing.

The importance of industry cannot be over-emphasised. African governments should realise that with the best of resource management oil and gas and the new entrants; solid minerals are exhaustible resources. The key to real transformation and economic recovery lies in adding value to abundant natural resources of the continent through manufacturing. Instead of exporting limestones; process cement. Instead of exporting crude oil dependent on increasingly unstable prices; refine the crude into hundreds of finished products and create sustainable decent jobs for millions of unemployed youths. Africa cannot eliminate poverty through palliatives for the poor and handouts but through wealth generation by increasing domestic capacity utilization and protection of industry. Against the background of current economic recession and Buhari Administration’s commitment to economic diversification, today Nigerian workers – members of the affiliate unions of IndustriALL in Nigeria would match on the street of Abuja to make case for Africa’s industrialization. In addition they are organizing an industrial policy discussion which attracts industry operators and officials of Federal ministry of trade and investment. There will also be continental perspective to be shared by trade unionists and civil society activists from Ghana and Zimbabwe. The focus of the policy dialogue would be on examining the crafted roadmaps of the administration for the revival of the key industrial sectors of the economy such as textile, garment, oil& gas, power sector, steel engineering and solid minerals among others. With respect of Textile, the critical issue is the implementation of the Cotton Textile and Garment policy and an evaluation of the funding component among other concerns. Chemical and Non-Metallic sector suffers the same fate as textile but the greatest issue affecting the sector is the challenge of accessing raw materials.

In Solid minerals, Oil and Gas, it is important to engage the current processes aimed at stimulating local production. For the identified sectors and other areas of local manufacturing, the roadmaps developed by the respective ministries for the revival of these sectors need to be engaged by the critical stakeholders to promote industrialization and sustainable employment in Nigeria. The objective of the round table discussion is to bring together policy makers and trade union activists in the Industrial Sector in Nigeria to examine ways and means of stimulating Industrialization in the Nigeria and Africa as a whole the forum will also create and opportunity to engage the government on its current programmes/roadmaps for the revival of key industries like textiles, oil and gas, mining, Iron and steel, chemical and Non-metallic etc. At the end ideas will be developed for sustainable Industrialisation in Nigeria participants and guests are expected to be drawn from United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Manufacturer Association of Nigeria, Employers Federations of the concerned sectors, Federal Ministry of Petroleum, Federal Ministry of solid minerals, Manufacturer Association of Nigeria, Employers Federations of the concerned sectors, and organized labour. Buhari administration should use the occasion of AID to implement 2014 Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) which commendably aims at promoting value addition in ten critical sectors of the economy.