African leaders must be ambitious – UNIDO

President Mills

Dr Kandeh .K. Yumkella, Secretary General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), on Monday advised African leaders to move away from mere rhetoric but be driven by the ambition to build competitive and diversified economies.

He said ambition was the catalyst needed to propel leaders to bring about the needed structural changes that created wealth and opportunities for decent jobs on a sustainable basis.

Dr Yumkella was speaking at the opening session of a two-day International Policy Conference in Accra.

The conference, which is on the theme: “Competitiveness and Diversification: Strategic Challenges in a Petroleum-Rich Economy,” was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and UNIDO.

It was organised to solicit ideas from participants on how African countries could address the management and diversification of rich mineral-resourced economies.

Dr Yumkella said: “African leaders must be ambitious and define ambition by their own terms and visions. They must have bold visions and good planning that can create decent jobs, right infrastructure and add value to raw commodities.”

He expressed worry that most African countries did not have records of geographic surveys though such studies were important documents that provided governments and policy makers the information on the country’s natural assets.

Dr Yumkella cautioned government officials to be wary of signing contracts and negotiations that could have dire consequences on future generations.

Miss Hanna Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, expressed the hope that the conference would create the opportunity for participants to reflect on how the availability of petroleum resources could affect industrial development policies and programmes.

“This conference will also give us all food for thought when considering the development options, in terms of new sectors of our economy, translating these resources into a variety of products and services for our own consumption and for export.”

Dr Joseph .S. Annan, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, called for increased investment in the petroleum sector.

“It is therefore necessary for African countries to find ways of collaborating on strategies to attract private sector partners, both domestic and international, to invest more in the petroleum sector for the benefit of the people of the continent,” he said.

Mr Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, expressed optimism that the conference would serve as a platform to deliberate on issues, which would help Ghana and other African countries to fashion out policies aimed at closing the gap on value addition on basic commodities.

Participants attending the conference include ministers, researchers, development partners, bankers and business experts in the oil and gas industry.

Source: GNA

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