2010 Italy & Africa – Partners in Business

UNIDO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that aims to reduce poverty through sustainable industrial development. Our purpose is to provide countries with the tools needed to  increase production activities, including their involvement in complex international trade relations, while protecting the environment.

Given the long-standing collaboration between UNIDO and Africa, and with the numerous ongoing projects, we can state that the relation between our agency and the continent has developed considerably. But above all, it bodes well for the future, particularly in reference to the opportunities created by sustainable industrial development.
UNIDO’s Database contains 3470 projects involving African countries, amounting to over 405 million USD of investments.

UNIDO Headquarters is located in Vienna. Nevertheless, the organization has a network composed of several delegations operating around the world, ranging from national offices to the ITPOs, the Technology and Investment Promotion Offices. The Italian ITPO was created in 1987 through an agreement signed between UNIDO and the Italian Government.

In 2009 and 2010, UNIDO ITPO Italy gave greater prominence to the African continent, intensifying its efforts to motivate Italian companies to capitalize on the opportunities offered by African markets and resources. Our office is focusing on several African countries, particularly Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal, while continuing the activities already underway in some East African countries, such as Ethiopia and Tanzania. There has also been increased interest in countries such as Kenya and Mozambique. In particular, the projects currently being promoted focus on sectors such as agro-food and environment, as it can clearly be seen from this graph.

We would also like to point out, on the basis of the experience gained over the years, that our office wants to be a point of reference not only for Italian entrepreneurs, but also for institutions involved in activities that focus on Africa. Good partnerships have been established with several institutes dealing with the internationalization of Italian SMEs, as well as synergies with private companies that expressed a particular interest in Sub-Saharan Africa. But we believe that we can do much more.

The synergies created by fair trade and incoming missions are not sufficient. We need a serious and shared commitment to Africa’s development. In the past, our office collaborated with the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to carry out research, analysis and implementation activities to encourage the flow of Italian investment to Africa. As the President of Senegal, Mr. Abdoulaye Wade, reported just one year ago in this same place, when it comes to industry and equipment, we must face competition from China and India.

Thanking again the Italian Ministry of Economic Development for inviting us to participate in this important forum, we would like to emphasize that we are here today with the aim of strengthening Italy’s partnership policies towards Africa. In order to move from words to action, we need real teamwork. In our office you will find not only commitment and availability, but also the know-how and qualified human resources.

The initiatives launched by our Italian office aims at attracting foreign investments and developing the technical and managerial skills needed to begin the sustainable development process.

In particular, our network provides a range of services such as:

  • Dissemination of the latest information on legal and economic conditions, investments financing and opportunities for industrial cooperation.
  • Identification and promotion of specific investment opportunities.
  • Expertise provision at all stages of the creative cycle of business.
  • Facilitation of business contacts between sponsors and potential foreign investors.
  • Activation of links with the business community and local development agencies.

Furthermore, new opportunities that come from strategic countries, such as Senegal and Mozambique, represent a priority for the Italian government and for our office. This year we have activated a new platform to support the private sector in both countries. Recognizing the role that private investment plays towards the successful economic and social development of a country, the initiative aims at supporting the local private sector, both in terms of industrial promotion and capacity building.

With regard to Senegal, as a result of the positive feedback from the Local Technical Unit of the Italian Cooperation, we have laid the foundations for an effective collaboration between our office and the competent department of the Italian Cooperation in Dakar, in order to actively contribute through our program PLASEPRI. This is therefore a concrete example of what we mean by “teamwork.”

We invite the Italian private sector present to get closer to our offices to learn about the opportunities existing today in Sub-Saharan Africa. We also invite the Italian institutions and agencies to cooperate with us, to discuss what we can do together and how to do it, focusing also on the evaluation of the steps taken and what remains to be done.

The road is not easy, and we must work together; otherwise we, as representatives of Italy,  cannot gain the confidence of a key continent for our future.

I want to mention a few concrete initiatives held in African countries, such as:

  • Delegates Programme

The Delegates Programme is a key tool that allows us to receive representatives of public and/or private institutions of the partner country, who deal with investments and/or SMEs, and bring with them a portfolio of investment opportunities to be promoted.
In the last three years, the intense joint promotion activity between ITPO Italy and the delegates from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Tanzania, has allowed the Italian business community to learn about the investment climate in Africa and the many opportunities it offers. In 2010, we intend to work with delegates from Senegal, Mozambique and Cameroon.

  • Food Security

A particular partnership has been developed between UNIDO and Ipack-Ima, the leading trade fair in food packaging. For this purpose, UNIDO sponsored the Symposium “Technologies for Food Security,” held in Bologna on June 9th and 10th.

By inviting four African delegations of entrepreneurs (from Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique and Senegal), we had the possibility to carry out a training course on specific features of food security, while favoring, promoting and facilitating business meetings between them and important Italian companies.

Finally, we would like to point out that our presence is well established in the territory, especially in the countries where there are greater investment opportunities. However, it is not always possibile to get the desired outcome, resulting in missed opportunities. We hope to strengthen communication among our offices and institutions, because we must move together on the path towards development, if we want to reach the desired goal.

Let me share with you what our Director-General Mr. Kandeh K. Yumkella recently said at the conference on the development of agribusiness in Africa: “Martin Luther King never said to have had a nightmare. He had a dream. Similarly, I declare that I dream of Africa’s success in improving the productive chain in the agro-food sector. The increasing commitment in creating efficient infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa certainly bodes well for the development processes of the entire sector”.