The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has intensified its efforts towards industrialisation in member countries which will subsequently stimulate economic prosperity of the peoples in the region.
The regional economic body’s draft strategy and roadmap on industrialisation and the Revised Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) have since been finalised and were ready for consideration by the extra-ordinary meeting of the SADC council of ministers in charge of commerce which opened in Harare today.
SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Tax said during the official opening of the SADC council of ministers meeting that the regional industrialisation strategy and roadmap will set the path to industrialisation and socio-economic prosperity of citizens in SADC member states.
“The strategy is expected to be a living policy framework that will guide the region in its quest to socio-economic transformation through industrialisation, contributing to sustainable development, poverty reduction and thus improved livelihood,” she said.
Dr. Tax told the extra-ordinary meeting of the SADC council of ministers that the strategy was anchored on industrialisation, competitiveness and regional integration.
She explained that industrialisation was a champion of economic and technological transformation while competitiveness was an active process to move from comparative advantage to competitive edges and regional integration was the context for industrial development and economic growth.
She stressed that regional integration was an important vehicle through which industrialisation and growth momentum will be accelerated.
Dr. Tax has meanwhile said industrial policy and implementation will be largely undertaken at national level while its success will depend on forging partnerships between governments, the private sector, non-state actors and development partners.
“Focused programmes aimed at enhancing economic inter-linkages to unlock regional potentials, scaling up productive capacities and competitiveness, stimulating beneficiations and value chains, enhancing technological set-ups, and improving the business enabling environment, are of critical importance,” she said.
She pointed out that while the decision to re-orient the SADC region integration path with proper linkages between industrialisation and market liberalisation was timely, the strategy and roadmap will only bear intended fruits if matched with practical actions and needed human and financial resources.
Dr. Tax noted that this will therefore require goodwill, hope and a robust financial strategy, commitment and determination from all SADC member states and partners in order to stay on course towards industrialisation and remarkable economic growth.
“It will be therefore important to expeditiously finalise the costed implementation plan of the strategy and roadmap and the investment plan in line with the short, medium and long term parameters outlined therein,” she emphasised.
She urged member countries to ensure that all related actions and decisions at national, regional and global levels and across different sectors of socio-economic development are complementary in order to fully promote industrialisation.
The SADC Executive Secretary further noted that taking such an approach would help to situate and provide an enabling environment towards achieving goals that the regional bloc has set for itself to frontload and prioritise industrial development.
“In order to achieve the feat we have set for ourselves, it is clear that the region is embarking on a long term project of economic and social transformation, to be supported by concerted efforts and commitment during the three-phased duration of 2015 to 2063,” Dr. Tax said.
And Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who officially opened the extra-ordinary meeting of the SADC council of ministers, said the strategy spans over a period of 48 years, starting this year, 2015.
Dr. Mumbengegwi, who is also Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the SADC region will between 2021 and 2050 progress from being factor-driven to investment driven and thereafter, to being an innovation-driven economy until 2063.
He noted that at that time, the region will have high levels of economic growth, competitiveness, incomes and employment.
Today’s extra-ordinary meeting of the council of ministers is taking place on the eve of the launching of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), as well as the negotiations for the Continental Free trade Area (CFTA).
He said the SADC member states can only derive more benefits from the expanded market by developing and strengthening their local industries.
“Without beneficiation and value addition to our products, trade liberalisation would only serve to perpetuate unsustainable trade imbalances,” he said.
The Zambian delegation attending the extra-ordinary meeting for the SADC council of ministers includes Harry Kalaba of Foreign Affairs and Margaret Mwanakatwe for Commerce, Trade and Industry.
Others in the delegation are Deputy Minister of Finance, Christopher Mvunga, Lusaka Province Minister Obvious Mwaliteta, Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Siazongo Siakalenge and Zambia’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ndiyoyi Mutiti and other government officials from relevant ministries.
The extra-ordinary meeting for the SADC council of ministers is expected to approve the strategy and roadmap and the Revised Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) before forwarding the master plan to the extra-ordinary summit of the heads of state and government which will be held on April 29, 2015.