By Staff Reporter

The United Nations Economic Commission, Sub- regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO-SA) held its second webinar series on Tuesday, 7 March 2023 on domestication of regional frameworks on industrialisation and national harmonization of regional strategies and policies to support industrial development in Southern Africa.

The objective of the series of webinars is to promote accelerated implementation of regional and national industrialization policies through the enhancement of productive capacities, diversification and value addition as key to supporting inclusive and sustainable growth.  As part of its mandate ECA SRO-SA supports regional member States to develop policy frameworks to promote industrial growth and accelerate structural transformation for job creation and the reduction of inequalities in the Southern Africa region.  

In her opening remarks, Ms. Olayinka Bandele, ECA SRO SA Chief, Inclusive Industrialisation Section high-lightened that the private sector and civil society can play a crucial role in driving policy implementation by advocating for policy coherence, providing feedback on policy implementation, and contributing to policy formulation. She also noted that, “achieving industrial development requires inclusive industrialisation that leaves no one and no place behind. By working together and leveraging the strengths of each country, we can create a shared vision for transformative industrialisation in Southern Africa”.

Mr. Oliver Maponga, Economic Affairs Officer in SRO-SA added that to attain inclusive growth Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are essential building blocks that feed into the African Economic Communities (AECs) at every stage of regional integration and development.

Representatives from COMESA and SADC laid the foundation on the role of RECS in attaining industrialisation and harmonisation guided by the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap and the COMESA Industrialization Strategy which form a basis for regional industrialization agenda and facilitate the integration of industrial sectors, and intensification of the production of diversified products and trade. Mr. Innocent Makwiramiti, Industrial Expert from COMESA Secretariat made a presentation on various COMESA activities to promote regional integration through industrialisation and outlined the different policies and strategies anchoring industrialisation in the region. He said that, “these policies have been adopted by member States, what remains is domestication and harmonisation, unfortunately there is low level of implementation which needs to be addressed”. Dr Johansein Rutaihwa, Senior Programmer Officer at the SADC Secretariat, shared the steps being taken by the SADC Secretariat to capacitate the member States for domestication and alignment of national industrialisation policies to the regional framework.  He further implored upon the member States to prioritise ratification of the protocol on industry which is also necessary for accelerated implementation of the harmonised/aligned policies.

The highlight of the webinar was the sharing of experiences on domestication, harmonization and alignment from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This session was moderated by Mr Farai Mutambanengwe, the Chief Executive Officer of the SMEs Association of Zimbabwe, representing the private sector. Representatives from the respective Ministries of Commerce, Trade and Industry shared that there was political will to have industrial frameworks aligned with National Development Plans and anchored by SADC and COMESA industrial policies, the challenge was inadequate resources to achieve these goals.

This second Webinar increased awareness on the regional industrialisation agenda and enhanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities for accelerated domestication of regional industrialisation policies. It was agreed that member States are aligning their national industrial policies to regional strategies in terms of priority sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing, however, efforts should be made to support collaboration and alignment with other related sectors such as energy and telecommunications, which will pave the way for sustainable and inclusive industrialisation.