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UNIDO Expert Group Meeting discusses new approaches and tools to industrial upgrading

The newly revised “Integrated Industrial Upgrading and Enterprise Development Approach” formulated by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) was the focus of an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) that ended on Friday.

More than 30 experts specialized in industrial upgrading from developing countries of Africa and Central Asia actively discussed the industrial upgrading and enterprise development methodologies enriched with new approaches and tools.

At the high-level opening ceremony, UNIDO Director General LI Yong stressed that “the industrial upgrading and modernization program is an important contribution to UNIDO’s goal of achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) that is explicitly recognized and anchored within the internationally agreed 2030 Agenda.”

Indeed, industrial upgrading and modernization programs have been one of UNIDO’s successful trademarks for over two decades. With projects extending from North Africa, West, Central and East African region to the Middle East, UNIDO delivered tailored technical assistance aimed at addressing existing constraints to SME growth at the institutional/regulatory level, intermediate and support institutions level, as well as at the enterprise level.

“Despite this success, UNIDO felt the need to assess its approach, and underwent in 2013 an Independent Thematic Evaluation,” said Li. Against this backdrop, UNIDO with funding from China, formulated the program “Integrated Industrial Upgrading and Enterprise Development Approach”.

During the opening ceremony, the “Growth Identification and Facilitation for Industrial Upgrading and Diversification – GIFIUD” approach, which is a result of a collaboration between Professor Justin Lin and his team from the National School of Development at Peking University with UNIDO, was also presented. “The approach serves as an important tool for accelerating industrial upgrading based on country’s comparative advantage,” said Pr. Justin Lin, who is also Honorary Dean of the National School of Development at Peking University and former Chief Economist of the World Bank.

“The industrial upgrading and modernization program is a core part of UNIDO’s Department of Trade Investment and Innovation (TII), which mandate is to drive socio-economic transformation and sustainable growth, by creating jobs, enhancing industrial competitiveness and boosting innovation for better access to markets. The new approach, built on identified strengths and areas for improvement, will enhance the identification and implementation of industrial upgrading and modernization programs, and will prepare the 4th industrial revolution or Industry 4.0,” explained Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, the TII Director.

Within the scope of the EGM, several side events were also held, bringing together experts to discuss specific thematic issues related to industrial upgrading. A session focused on the latest version of an IT tool (including a live demonstration of the specifications and functionality), which has been developed recently to create a standardized, accurate, safe, and quick electronic platform to be used during the diagnostic stage of the industrial upgrading programs. Another side event explored the forthcoming establishment of an Industrial Upgrading Offices Network, aiming at enhancing and facilitating further cooperation between different upgrading offices, mainly in African regions.

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