SADC Council of Ministers call for increased focus on industrialisation

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Lahja Nashuuta

Windhoek - The outgoing chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Lindiwe Sisulu has urged member states to be proactive on driving SADC Industrialization Agenda as outlined in the SADC industrialization Strategy and Roadmap.

Sisulu made the plea while addressing the Council of Ministers during the handing over of the chairpersonship to Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Nditwah on Monday.

Sisulu, the Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa said all member states should focus on the need to strengthen the region’s capabilities both inside and outside of government in order to advance regional industrialization.

“It is our belief that SADC governments should identify priority value chains and take steps to attract the private sector into these specific sectors,” She said, while emphasising that industrial development should be underpinned by sound infrastructure.

The lack of interconnectivity and poor transport within the region has been identified as the key stumbling blocks to fully move forward with industrialisation and beneficiation.

The Council, which consists of ministers from 16 member states usually from the ministries responsible for foreign affairs and international relations, economic planning or finance are meeting ahead of 38th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government on 17-18 July.

Although achievements has been recorded across the SADC’s priority areas of industrial development and market integration; infrastructure support for regional integration; peace and security and institutional reforms, Sisulu said there is a need to maintain the focus on industrial development by focusing on promotion of regional value chains and value addition in the region.

“Of course a lot has been done, we have progressively put in place policies and institutions that will promote the adoption of technological know-how, ensuring modernisation of production systems, as well as embracing skills development, science and technology. However there is more work to be done on SADC industrial development initiatives,” said the South African top diplomat.

Sisulu further said there is need to prioritise trade facilitation bottlenecks such as inadequate infrastructure and customs procedures, as well as weak logistics systems which raise trade costs and hinder the ease of doing business.

Sisulu was the chair of the SADC Council of Ministers during the past year after South Africa hosted the 37th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in August in Pretoria. The Summit was held under the “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains”. The theme singled out transport costs and transit delays in Southern Africa which is reported to be particularly higher than in most other regions. Sisulu said this has the potential to reverse gains in regional industrial development.

“There is a need for resource mobilisation which provides options for funding our programmes and agenda, achieve envisioned objectives as outlined in our approved strategic blueprints will remain a dream,” she said.

Sisulu said regional integration is not an option and, as such, and that the region must strive to establish sustainable funding mechanisms for the implementation of SADC programmes and projects.

“Regional integration is not an option and, as such, we must strive to establish sustainable funding mechanisms for the implementation of SADC programmes and projects,” she said.

She further said full realisation that the regional goals can only be met if SADC focus on strong and meaningful partnerships with the private sector, which is part of the engine for sustainable economic growth.

“In order to optimally achieve the objectives as set out in our work programme, we need to further strengthen and cultivate private sector involvement. 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,” Sisulu said.

She said production should not only be in terms of quantities, but also quality, based on effective and efficient systems, while being mindful of the comparative advantages of Member States.

 

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