By Kizito Sikuka in Windhoek, Namibia
The success of the industrialisation drive in southern Africa depends on the development of robust policies and institutions to promote modernisation of production systems as well a well-functioning financial system that will facilitate the availability and movement of capital.
Outgoing Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers chairperson, Dr Lindiwe Sisulu, said there is a need to “further strengthen and cultivate private sector involvement” in the industrialisation agenda.
“The role of our governments is to put in place policies and initiatives that would create an enabling environment for the private sector to grow,” said Dr Sisulu, who is the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.
“To further realise these objectives, we will have to continue strengthening financial systems that would facilitate availability and movement of capital,” she said.
Speaking during the opening session of the SADC Council of Ministers meeting in the Namibian capital Windhoek on 13 August, Dr Sisulu said it was critical for SADC member states to strengthen the momentum towards industrialisation and ensure that southern Africa achieves its longstanding vision of a united, prosperous and integrated region.
“From the time that the historic decision to frontload industrialisation in the regional development framework, was taken in August 2014 by our Heads of State and Government in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, we have collectively and tirelessly worked to ensure that the dream becomes a reality through the implementation of our various blueprints,” she said.
“Not only has our community produced the best strategy for our region and the first of its kind, the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, we have also taken concerted efforts to ensure that we are able to build productive capacities within member states.”
She said as chair of the regional community, the focus for South Africa was on exploring how national governments in SADC could create an enabling environment for the private sector to play an active role in advancing the industrialization agenda, as well as how member states could diversify their economies and participate in regional value chains.
In this regard, Sisulu said efforts are at an advanced stage “to develop a cooperation framework for private sector participation of businesses operating in SADC.”
Furthermore, the region has since 2016 successfully convened the annual SADC Industrialisation Week to popularize the strategy and garner support for its implementation.
The SADC Industrialisation Week provides an opportunity for member states and the SADC Secretariat to engage and network with the private sector, which is a key player in the industrialisation agenda.
The first-ever SADC Industrialisation Week was held in August 2016 on the margins of the 36th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in Ezulwini, Eswatini.
The second was held in South Africa in August 2017 ahead of the 37th SADC Summit, while the third industrialisation week took place in Namibia from 30 July-1 August.
Speaking at the same meeting, SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax said since the adoption of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap in 2015, the industrial development blueprint has now been rolled out throughout the region, with seven countries having already been assisted “to determine national public coordination costs”
The seven countries are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The target is to assist the remaining countries to determine their national public coordination costs to ensure effective implementation of the strategy.
“Furthermore, in line with value chains that were profiled in 2016/17, namely mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals, the focus during the year under review was placed on developing value chain projects in these priority areas, and in profiling of the agro-processing,” Dr Tax said.
She said member states have submitted proposed value chains “that are being analysed to determine suitability for project preparation and commercial viability to attract financing or investment.”
Dr Tax said financial assistance has been received from the African Development Bank to ensure the effective implementation of the industrialisation agenda.
“It is envisage that during the 2018/19 a number of value chains in selected mining, agro-processing and pharmaceutical subsectors will be developed to bankability, ready for implementation and investment by the private sector,” she said, adding that “the private sector and financial institutions are encouraged to take advantage and invest in these value chains projects.”
The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap seeks to achieve major economic and technological transformation at national and regional levels to accelerate economic growth through industrial development.
A Costed Action Plan for the Strategy covering 2015-2030 was approved in March 2017, detailing the key actions and the key enablers needed to unlock the industrial potential of the region.
The 38th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government was held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.”
The theme builds on the focus of the past four SADC Summits that sought to advance industrial development, and takes into account the need for adequate infrastructure to support industrialisation and the need to engage the youth, who are the bulk of the SADC population.
At the summit, Namibian President Hage Geingob assumed the SADC chair from his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa. - sardc.net.