The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Africa.
Under this MoU, the two organsisations will support the development and growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs that are involved in climate and sustainable energy technologies and business, agri-business and food security as well as youth and women economic empowerment.
In today’s economic landscape, resource constraints and climate concerns are no longer externalities but rather opportunities for new and sustainable business models, technology innovations to drive economic growth. SMEs and entrepreneurs in developing and post-conflict countries could be the driver for economic development and inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
“Under the agreement, we will work together to boost local SMEs and entrepreneurs in the delivery of climate and clean energy solutions in Africa, focusing on sustainable energy and agri-business sector. Through our joint activities, UNIDO and AECF will unlock the ingenuity of SMEs and entrepreneurs who are the drivers of the transition to low-carbon and climate resilient industries in the partner countries and create jobs,” said LI Yong, UNIDO Director-General.
Global trends and experiences have shown the catalytic potential of technology innovation in addressing the challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Climate change also offers opportunities for economic growth through the creation of new industries and business models. The agility of SMEs and start-ups allows them to be key players providing innovative technology solutions and products that address local challenges. Despite this, SMEs and start-ups in developing countries that have clean technological and business model innovations are not systematically supported as the innovation ecosystems in the countries are often weak.
“At AECF, we believe that a thriving and robust private sector will drive inclusivity and sustainability that leads to a green economic growth trajectory,” said Lord Paul Boateng, AECF Board Chair.
Both UNIDO and AECF recognize the central role of the private sector – specifically SMEs and entrepreneurs in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development that can deliver local technology innovation to address the energy, food, environmental and economic challenges of today.
The partnership between UNIDO and AECF will build on what UNIDO has been doing under its Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP), the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN) and under agri-business development.