The Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh Yumkella, has urged African governments to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources, including oil, to generate revenue for growth through diversifying economies.
“African leaders must have bold visions and good planning to effectively manage their natural resources for the well-being of their nations,” Yumkella, said at a two-day conference in Accra, Ghana, entitled: “Competitiveness and Diversification: Strategic Challenges in a Petroleum-Rich Economy”.
A copy of his speech, which was made available to PANA in New York on Wednesday, quoted Yumkella as saying that, “ambition is the catalyst that can propel African leaders to bring about structural changes and create wealth and opportunities for decent jobs on a sustainable basis, as well as the right infrastructure and add value to natural resources.”
He called for a bold development agenda in Africa in the next 20 years to restructure and diversify economies beyond dependence on oil and gas, to avoid the so-called “Dutch disease”.
The “Dutch disease” or the “resource curse” refers to increasing dependency on the exploitation of natural resources at the expense of developing a manufacturing sector.
Yumkella also said: “African countries must make sure the new wealth does not destroy the old one. Africa must develop manufacturing to become competitive on a global scale.”
Industrialization policy, he added, should include agribusiness and agro-industries as extra engines of economic growth and to boost socio-economic development.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with the President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, the UNIDO chief urged Ghana to become “a model” for the sub-region.
“A stable democracy coupled with the oil find could turn the country into an economic powerhouse,” he said