LDC5 side event: Holistic and multisectoral interventions to address systemic and structural vulnerabilities in least developed countries – lessons learned from Angola

Statement by Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD

LDC5 side event: Holistic and multisectoral interventions to address systemic and structural vulnerabilities in least developed countries – lessons learned from Angola

Doha, Qatar
06 March 2023

[as prepred for delivery]

Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues,

It is my distinct pleasure and honour to welcome you today this UNCTAD side event, where we will showcase, alongside our amazing partners, The EU-UNCTAD Joint Programme for Angola, a project of which we are tremendously proud.

I would like to salute our magnificent hosts today, represented by His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar.

I am happy to welcome the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Angola, His Excellency Victor Francisco dos Santos Fernandes, as well as Hirondino Garcia, President of Prestigio in Angola, both of whom have had a first-hand experience of this programme.

I am happy to welcome as well Her Excellency Fitsum Assefa Adela, Minister of Planning and Development of Ethiopia, where a similar comprehensive UNCTAD programme has just started.

Finally, I am happy to greet the state secretaries of Finland and Portugal, who are joining us today to share their experiences in the delivery of trade and development assistance, and who have been great strategic and substantive partners in this programme.

And last but not least, I want to welcome every person who has come here to this side event. It is a great privilege to have you all here.

Before I give the floor to our distinguished panellists, I would like to share with you three brief, general ideas – lessons, really – from this initiative.

First, the Angola Programme highlights the value of advancing the development narrative from fragmented, sector-specific projects to comprehensive, support programmes. Why? Put simply, because multi-sector programmes bring a lot of people together. In Angola, we worked with not one, but many ministries, with not one, but many agencies, with not one, but many companies and schools and universities. So we not only brought people together, but we also brought institutions together.

This led to synergies, to policy coherence, and ultimately to the creation of a multi-stakeholder platform that we dearly hope can continue long after we have left.

Furthermore, this programme has brought us, our own UNCTAD house, closer together, too. We have been able to be more synergistic across our divisions and build strategies where the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

Our second lesson proceeds directly from this. The goal of structural transformation in least developed countries (LDCs) – our greatest, most long-standing mission, and indeed the stated goal of this Angola Programme – can only be achieved through comprehensive programs such as this one.

Because structural transformation is a complex, dynamic, process, requiring multiple stakeholders across different layers of governance.

Our Angola programme reflected that complex process. We sought three things: improving human and institutional capacities through training and capacity building; foster economic diversification policies; and help the country integrate into regional and global value chains.

With this holistic approach, the programme covered seven different components. Scoping of non-oil sector opportunities and providing support to green value chains; trade policy; trade facilitation; transport and trade logistics; entrepreneurship development; investment; and support to cultural and creative industries.

As a part of the process, UNCTAD delivered various policy reviews, designed to help pave the way towards “graduation with momentum” and create sustainable post-graduation policies and development narratives in Angola, which is scheduled to graduate from LDC status in 2024.

A third lesson I would like to highlight is the delivery of activities outside of the capital of Luanda. We have taken our training workshops to a number of provinces and extended support to new beneficiary groups. This enabled the participation of diverse, often under-represented stakeholders in development cooperation. For example, as part of our green export review, we have been working to develop the honey sector, collaborating with rural cooperatives, and offering training to women-led groups.

All said and done, the programme has trained over 2,600 Angolans and provided capacity building to over 660 institutions. While we are working in many sectors that are traditionally male dominated, we have been able to secure over 35% female participation in our activities – and we are steadily moving towards the programme’s 40% target.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

To close, I would like to say that after this successful experience many other LDCs are now requesting UNCTAD to implement an “Angola-style” support programme in their countries. My colleagues told me that when they mentioned this to our national implementation partners in Angola, they said, “We are proud that Angola can be a model!”. And I would like to say, yes, it can, and yes, it is!

I yield the floor now to our distinguished panellists. Thank you.