The SADC Secretariat has begun the process of identifying regional industrial Centres of Excellence and Centres of Specialisation that will be tasked with spearheading the development of skills and capacity to implement the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2016-2063).
Adopted by the SADC Extraordinary Summit held in 2015 in Harare, Zimbabwe, the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap aims to accelerate the momentum to strengthen the comparative and competitive advantages of economies of the region.
The strategy and roadmap is anchored on three pillars – Industrialisation, Competitiveness, and Regional integration.
Strategic interventions for each of these pillars are proposed in the action plan.
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.
The establishment of the industrial centres of excellence and specialisation is in line with the recognition that education and skills development are important in facilitating industrial growth and improving the competitiveness of the region in the global economy.
Investment in education and skills development as well as in science, technology and innovation is one of the broad strategic objectives of the SADC regional integration and cooperation agenda.
In fact, the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap identifies human capital development and in particular, skills development, as an important enabling factor for industrialization.
The strategy recognises the importance of technological and economic transformation of the region through industrialization, modernisation, skills development, science and technology, financial strengthening and deeper regional integration.
The region has over the past four years pursued activities aimed at rolling out the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
However, one of the major constraints is a lack of professionally and technically qualified personnel, as well as a weak scientific and technological base to advance the industrialization agenda.
To address this, the SADC Secretariat is conducting a scoping and mapping exercise to identify and recommend potential centres in the region.
The process will be guided by the Regional Framework and Guidelines for the establishment of Regional Centres of Excellence and Centres of Specialisation approved by the SADC Council of Ministers in 2018.
Since there are several institutions that already identify themselves as centres of excellence and centres of specialisation, the framework and guidelines will ensure that the identified institutions will operate within a common set of standards.
The exercise is expected to result in a report identifying and recommending centres in the priority value chains for industrial development.
Furthermore, the study is expected to propose viable funding options, as well as private sector linkages and partnerships.
The identified centres are expected to occupy a niche area of strategic importance determined by the long term vision of SADC for the development of the region and all its Member States.
Establishment of centres of excellences and centres of specialization is also in line with the Protocol on Education and Training of 1997 and the Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation of 2008.
The Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation defines a centre of excellence as an “institution which has demonstrated a high quality of research and development capability in a specific science, technology and innovation field.”
In this regard, the aim of the regional centres will be to build competencies in research, development and innovation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building in support of industrial development in the region. - SADC Today.