The private sector has been challenged to move beyond policy and advocacy towards increased levels of entrepreneurship. Various participants at the “Industrializing the SADC Region: Sharing Strides, Drawbacks and Impact” event convened by the African Union Southern Africa Regional Office (AU-SARO) as part of the activities of the Africa Industrialization Week 2022 commemorative held in Niamey, Niger, underscored the need to promote industrialization on the continent by showcasing the successes, challenges, opportunities and further actions needed from the process to accelerate industrialization in the Southern African region. The event was organized jointly with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Southern Regional Office, Zambia), National Planning Commission of Malawi on the 22nd of November 2022.

H.E Ambassador David Claude Pierre, Head of Mission of the African Union Southern Africa Regional Office, restated the commitment of the AU-SARO to promote the implementation of the Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa (AIDA), the industrial policy framework of Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Industrialization strategies, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). He called on all stakeholders within the region to acknowledge and agree that Industrialization was an important vehicle for promoting economic growth, creating jobs, production of higher value goods, increasing exports and export earnings, improving resource allocation efficiency and creating linkages with other sectors and of sustainable employment opportunities. He noted “the launch of the AfCFTA comes as an opportunity that if successfully implemented, will speed up industrialization and foster economic development”.

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) made a presentation on Industrializing the SADC Region, highlighting the opportunities, achievements and challenges. Dr. Johansein Rutaihwa from the Industrial Development and Trade Directorate in SADC gave an overview on industrializing the SADC region, sharing strides, impacts and drawbacks while highlighting the key features of the SADC Industrialization Strategy & Roadmap (SISR). The speakers interrogated the key pillars from the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap, which include the Industrialization, competitiveness, regional integration and cross-cutting pillar. The goals for the meeting was to dialogue on how to promote industrialization within the region, promote regional integration and increasing manufacturing of goods and exports in the region.

Among the panellists on the discussion was Mr. Sunday Chikoti, Director for Industry at the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry in Zambia, indicated that as countries moved forward with the SADC Protocol on Industry, it was important not to leave the private sector behind. In addition, Dr Thomas Munthali, Director General of the National Planning Commission for Malawi, in order to have an integrated industrial policy, there was need to address the skills capacity constraints, infrastructure gaps and finance constraints on bankable investment projects, was key in order to move forward. On this panel session, Ms Eunice Kamwendo, Director for UNECA SRO outlined the role that UNECA was playing within the region in supporting countries in developing national strategies on the AfCFTA and Industrialization. She stressed on the importance of ensuring that continental industrialization strategies were aligned to the regional and national strategies for policy coherence. Lastly, Dr Marvis Sibanda, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Zimbabwe pointed out the issue of regional value development and the role of each country in pushing manufacturing sector forwards.

The key outcomes of the discussions were the need for a skills audit that would allow the regions to remain competitive with other regions. The private sector was also urged to move beyond policy and advocacy and go towards entrepreneurship. The participants encouraged the “buy local’ initiative calling for momentum at the continental level.

The event was moderated by Ms. Myranda Lutempo, Senior Policy Officer, AU-SARO, Mr. Chiza Charles Chiumya, Ag. Director Economy, Trade, Industry and Mining, African Union Commission and Ms. Olayinka Bandele, Chief/Senior Economist, Inclusive Industrialization Section, UNECA Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa.

Learn more about the AU Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification.

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