Agriculture and Investment Opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of UNIDO, I would like to thank you for participating in this Forum organized by UNIDO in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.

We are honored to host the Ministers of Agriculture from so many Sub-Saharan African countries. Their attendance to the 37th FAO Conference in Rome and their presence here today shows their commitment to the fight against hunger and their willingness to support the development of the local agro-industrial value-chain.

The aim of the event is, therefore, to promote the main economic opportunities in the agricultural and agro-industrial sectors offered by several African countries to the main Italian stakeholders. The involvement of Italian entrepreneurs allows for the establishment of development cooperation activities, while addressing the emergence of an economy based on the successful model of Small and Medium Enterprises.

UNIDO supports Developing Countries in strengthening their economic capacity. Specifically, ITPO aims to foster industrial and economic development in Developing Countries, including the agro-industry, energy and environment sectors. This is achieved through the promotion of industrial partnerships, technology transfers and capacity building.

In line with UNIDO’s principles and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, ITPO Italy focuses on the development of the agro-industry and agro-food sectors. In recent years we have launched several initiatives aimed at promoting storage, processing and packaging techniques, with the objective of decreasing post-harvest losses and enhancing local products. ITPO is committed to identifying technologies and innovative processes that contribute to the development of these sectors in DCs. This is demonstrated by recently signed agreements, such as the one with Ipack-Ima. The fair held by Ipack-Ima is one the of most important international events in the packaging technology sectors. Our commitment is also showed by the many initiatives we organize, such as “UNIDO ITPO Italy Technology Innovation Award for Food Safety in Developing Countries”, whose deadline for applications is 31st October 2011.

We therefore believe that events like this are fundamental to raise awareness within the Italian business community of the opportunities offered by African countries. Thanks to its economic and human potential, Africa is the key continent for future development and represents one of the most interesting markets for investment. It is predicted that investments within the continent will increase  and that the one-way approach to cooperation, based on mere financial aid, will be discarded.

For this reason, UNIDO cooperates with Italian institutions to further involve their entrepreneurs in supporting the economic growth and the development of Small and Medium Enterprises in African countries. This is achieved through direct investments in the agro-industry sector and the commitment to planning and technology transfers, which are necessary to support developing countries.