This Day (Lagos)

20 December 2011

Africa: Climate Change - Continent May Be Worst Hit, Says UNIDO

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has sounded a note of warning that the African continent may be the worst hit by the effect of global warming.

The Director General, UNIDO Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, explained that Africa would suffer more if the rate of global warming continues to increase, posing a threat to natural resources and habitats in the world.

Yumkella, during his anniversary lecture at the 10th anniversary of the Bank of Industry (BOI), said climate change is one of the biggest long-term risks to global development.

"Climate change is the single biggest environmental and humanitarian crisis of our time. The earth's atmosphere is overloaded with heat-trapping carbon dioxide, which threatens large-scale disruptions in climate with disastrous consequences. We must act now to spur the adoption of cleaner energy sources at home and abroad," he said.

He said solving global warming would improve lives by cleaning up air pollution while investing in clean energy, green jobs and smart energy solutions.

"We need to drive smarter cars, save money with energy efficient homes and offices, and build better communities and transportation networks. This is how we can solve the climate crisis today," he said

He however stated that food crisis is still a major concern in the continent, adding that "the rising population in the continent is a time bomb waiting to explode due to the continent's inability to meet the growing demand for food."

"The increase in population is alarming and we need to as a matter of urgency develop ways to boost food security in the continent to meet the demand for food," he said.

According to him, Nigeria would double its population in the next 40 years, pointing out that the country needs to map out strategies to ensure that its citizen do not go hungry.

He said Africa's overdependence of commodity is not the right path to go in order to ensure sustainable growth, but stressed the need to diversify into higher quality products that would take the continent above the poverty line.

He said most of the developing economies in the world have been able to diversify their economy from being a mono-product economy to a multi product economy, saying that this is the way for Nigeria to go if it desires to make any sustainable economic growth.

The Director General stated that the role of the manufacturing industry cannot be over-emphasised and said that the cost of doing business in Nigeria is killing many factories thereby militating the potentials of the sector to provide job opportunities for the nation's teeming youth.

"Nigeria needs to do more in improving its infrastructural facilities because the cost of doing business in Nigeria currently is not good, lack of energy is killing the industry. Nigeria needs to make bold decisions to drive industrialisation," he said.

He pointed out that Nigeria has all it takes to be the cassava feeder of the world and to be a major exporter of ethanol.

Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director, BOI, Ms Evelyn Oputu, said the bank had come from a long way to be a leading self sustaining development finance institution, operating under sound management and banking principles that would promote the emergence and development of a virile competitive industrial sector in Nigeria.

She said the mission of the bank is to transform Nigeria's industrial sector integrating it into the global economy by providing financial and business support services to attain modern capabilities for the production of goods that are competitive in both the domestic and external markets.

In a bid to drive the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, the Managing Director presented cheques to beneficiaries of the BOI and Dangote MSME fund.

She called on well-meaning Nigerians to emulate the kind gesture shown by the Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote, saying that it would go a long way in driving MSME operations and industrialisation in the country.

She also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the bank and the Oyo State Government for the establishment of a joint MSME development fund.

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