By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
African governments must implement sustainable security measures if the continent is to attract investment, protect existing investments and create sustainable decent jobs, said Issa Aremu, the top trade union leader.
Aremu, Vice President of Africa Industrialization Day (AID) 2020, spoke during the commemoration activity and webinars organized by Industrial Global Union coordinated in Lagos and Johannesburg in South Africa.
According to him, “In 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed November 20“ Africa Industrialization Day ”(AID). Annually, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), a specialized agency of the United Nations for economic and industrial development, raises awareness of the need for industrial development in Africa. The 2020 AID theme is “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization in the AfCFTA and COVID-19 Era”,
Aremu regretted that while industry is the key driver of sustainable employment and development for national economies and the foundation of a good standard of living, Africa continues to export raw cotton, crude oil, mineral resources, gold and diamonds only to importing finished manufactured goods from China, Europe and America and in the process exporting jobs. Therefore, he called for adequate industrial policies to reindustrialize Africa.
However, the front-line union leader observed that the rising tide of insecurity on the continent caused by insurgencies, banditry and avoidable wars undermines investment and industrialization on the continent, citing the case of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the recent conflict in Ethiopia with the Tigri region.
On Nigeria’s security challenge, Aremu noted that “bandit activities across the country are undermining agricultural cultivation, agri-allies and industrial expansion. “The insecurity,” he said, “will make Nigerian industries uncompetitive, with negative impacts on employment.”
The union leader also added that there can be no industrialization without electrification. Therefore, he urged all African governments to “invest massively in the combination of hydroelectric, solar and nuclear energy to boost industrialization.”
Comrade Aremu said that there is a link between industry and sustainable jobs. He said the underlying condition for the recent #ENDSARS protests and their violent decline was “massive and unacceptable” unemployment and underemployment.
According to him, “Sustainable massive jobs can only come from industry and manufacturing, adding that decent jobs should not be an act of charity but a necessary condition to promote productivity, transform Nigeria and Africa from underdevelopment, from dependence to sustainable development ”. “Africa,” he said, “must copy China’s industrialization and diversification drive, which in 20 years lifted more than 250 million people out of poverty through manufacturing and industrialization.”