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SADC Ministers meet to plan action for industrialisation of the region

by Joseph Ngwawi in Mbabane, Swaziland – SANF 17 no 7
Government Ministers from 15 countries in southern Africa are meeting in Swaziland to discuss the actions, policy interventions and macro-economic environment needed for industrialisation of the region.

The vision of southern Africa as an industrialised and integrated region could soon become a reality, thanks to this process of developing an industrialisation Action Plan, now being costed for implementation.

The draft Action Plan of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap is being discussed by the Council of Ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) following a ministerial retreat on this initiative.

The SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said the draft action plan was approved by the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Integration.

“It is anticipated that Council will reflect on the proposed activities contained in the action plan around the three main pillars of the strategy,” Dr Tax said during the opening session of the Council of Ministers in Mbabane.

The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap was developed as an inclusive long-term modernisation and economic transformation scheme that should enable substantial and sustained economic development to raise living standards.

The strategy and roadmap initiative is anchored on three interdependent strategic pillars:

  • industrialisation, as a champion of economic transformation;
  • enhanced competitiveness; and,
  • deeper regional integration.

Swaziland’s Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini said the action plan “outlines the actions, policy interventions and the necessary macro-economic environment for industrialisation.”

“I am informed that the Costed Action Plan on Industrialisation is about US$100 million for coordination at the level of SADC Secretariat and Member States over the 15-year period extending from 2015-2030,” Dlamini said while officially opening the Council of Ministers meeting.

The action plan seeks to establish a coherent and synergistic implementation scheme containing strategic options and general policies towards the progressive attainment of time-bound targets set out in the strategy and roadmap.

The plan will focus on the first 15 years of the strategy timeframe, and aims to create an enabling environment for sustaining industrial development as a driver of economic transformation; and establish an enduring alliance for industrialisation consisting of the public and private sectors as well as strategic partners.

According to an earlier version of the action plan that was developed in 2016, strategic interventions for each of these pillars are proposed.

These include an improved policy environment for industrial development, increased volume and efficiency of public and private sector investments in the SADC economy, creation of regional value chains and participation in related global processes, as well as increased value addition for agricultural and non-agricultural products and services.

In order to improve the operating environment, there are plans to develop and operationalise a Protocol on Industry by 2020, which should lead to the development of industrialisation policies and strategies at national level.

Where member states already have such policies and strategies, these should be reviewed and aligned to the industrialisation strategy and roadmap.

Member States will be required to develop national Industrial Upgrading and Modernization Programmes by 2018 and implement these by 2020.

These should be in line with the SADC Upgrading and Modernization Programme, which provides the basis for a sector-specific approach to industrialisation in the region, focusing on upgrading existing manufacturing capacities, modernising productive facilities, reinforcing the institutional support infrastructure, and strengthening regional capacity for research and innovation.

There is also a target to progressively increase the ratio of Gross Domestic Investment to Gross Domestic Product to 25 percent by 2020 and 30 percent before 2030.

To achieve these targets, there are plans to develop a SADC Investment Promotion Framework as well as a SADC Regional Action Programme on Investment to accompany it.

To encourage the creation of regional value chains and participation in global processes, the region has identified five priority areas in which the value chains can be established and for which regional strategies should be developed by 2020.

These are in the areas of agro-processing, minerals beneficiation, consumer goods, capital goods, and services.

A detailed value chain study is proposed for specific products or services in the priority areas.

As part of the process of promoting value-chain participation, there are plans to develop model legislation and regulations for intra-SADC agro-processing, minerals beneficiation and other manufacturing activities and services.

The action plan proposes an active role for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the SADC industrialisation agenda. SMEs are an important variable in SADC development plans, representing 90 percent of all businesses and accounting for more than 50 percent of employment

Reduction or removal of structural impediments to industrialisation is another target being pursued by SADC. In this regard, there is need to improve power generation capacity and facilitate an increase in the development and use of renewable sources of energy as well as ensure adequate water supply.

There is also need to reduce delays at ports and border posts and shorten the duration of movement of goods across borders in the SADC region. This will involve harmonization of border-crossing procedures in SADC over the next few years. sardc.net

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.      Email sanf[at]sardc.net     

Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa     www.sardc.net  Knowledge for Development

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