The Southern African Development Community will remain a dumping ground for processed goods from other regions if it does not industrialise, SADC Chairperson President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi has said.
President Chakwera delivered the remarks at the official opening of the SADC Industrialisation Week (SIW) in Lilongwe, Malawi on November 22, 2021.
He said industrialisation was a key priority for SADC economic transformation, warning “… if we do not industrialise we will continue to be a dumping ground for products from other nations”.
President Chakwera underscored the need for SADC member states to diversify their economies by moving from raw and unprocessed materials to value added and manufactured products. He said value chains, which are currently at 14 percent, remain the Region’s low hanging fruits for the accomplishment of the industrialisation agenda.
Officially opening the event, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi highlighted that SIW brought together states and the private sector for public-private engagement to foster new opportunities for intra-African trade and investment.
He concurred with President Chakwera that it was time the region stopped being used as a dumping ground for products imported from other regions. He said SADC was endowed with raw materials such as gas, tobacco and minerals capable of bringing economic prosperity to its people.
SADC Executive Secretary, Mr Elias Magosi, said industrialisation would remain a pie in the sky without the active participation of the private sector. He said as long as the region remained a dumping ground of processed goods from elsewhere, it meant other parts of the world were developing at the expense of SADC.
The Executive Secretary said there was need for the region to move with speed towards industrialisation. He cited that the policies and strategies already existed and what remained was for the public and private sectors to engage and play their roles in promoting intra-regional trade.
At the same event, Ms Eunice Kamwendo, Director for the Economic Commission for Africa (Southern Africa), said it was sad that the industrialisation promise was yet to materialise in SADC as the share of manufacturing value added to Southern Africa’s GDP had not increased significantly over the last five years.
“Productive capabilities are essential preconditions for the much-needed transformative shifts that we would like to see in our region. This will entail focus on new and emerging sectors that will power industrialisation in the SADC region,” she said.
Held under the theme, “Bolstering productive capacities in the face of COVID-19 pandemic for inclusive, sustainable economic and industrial transformation”, the fifth SIW brought together public-private players and captains of industry to discuss new opportunities for promotion of intra-regional trade and investment.
The event also promoted small pelagic fish value chains to safeguard and enhance the contribution of sustainable and healthy food systems in the SADC region. – SADC