By Lavender Degre

Green industrialization is the path to a sustainable future with sustainable jobs and a low carbon footprint and inclusive growth. Our member States have committed to this path of development and they need the support of science and technology to traverse the challenging terrain as they deepen green industrialization, structural transformation and sustainable development”. Says the Chair of the 27th ICSOE represented by Mr. Rhino Mchenga, Acting Director Economic Affairs, Malawi Ministry of Finance

Mr. Mchenga was speaking on behalf of the Bureau during the Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting(AEGM)  organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) in collaboration with the Government of Mozambique prior to the 28th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) for Southern Africa to be held from 26 to 27 October 2022 on the theme,  “Greening Industrialization in Southern Africa through Digitalization, Infrastructure Development and Regional Integration: Leveraging AfCFTA Implementation”.

He told participants that, the 2022 ICSOE theme was specifically chosen to deal with topical issues of our time in this period of transitioning to a carbon neutral environment as Southern Africa economies seek to find the balance between economic growth and minimal damage to the environment.

In her welcoming remarks Ms. Eunice Kamwendo, Director ECA-SRO-SA said the objective of the meeting was to review the report commissioned by ECA on the theme, provide expert inputs, identify gaps and further insights in order to add value and enrich the report; and Strengthen policy recommendations to inform the finalization of the report and  galvanize actions.

She noted that Southern Africa needs to continue pushing the agenda on industrialization as, “no country has truly and sustainably developed without passing through the industrialization process. It remains an important lever for growth, structural change and economic development”.

The official Opening of the Ad-hoc Expert Group meeting was done by Mr. Jorge Jairoce, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mozambique, who encouraged the Ad-hoc working groups to produce high quality recommendations for tabling at the ICSOE session. He pointed out that, Mozambique’s population is highly dependent on the availability of basic natural resources such as land, water, forests, and fish. Thus, “the high dependency on such resources and the unsustainable rate and methods of their use and extraction is destroying the very basis of their existence. The pressures are rapidly rising as the population is expected to double by 2030, exerting more strain on the already stressed natural resource base. In terms of the disaster induced death toll since 2000, Mozambique had the greatest number of casualties at about 3,000 of which more than 1,000 was attributed to Cyclone Idai alone and which hit the country in March 2019”.

He concluded that it is essential for Mozambique and other African countries to find a realistic and pragmatic balance between pursuing their industrialization and development agendas while striving to reach their climate goals. He said, “green industrialization will help Mozambique to dissociate economic growth from negative environmental externalities by maximizing the application of clean energy, sustainable inputs and green-production technologies. The development of industrial structures will lead to new market needs emerging that necessitate improvement and alignment of hard infrastructure, such as roads, ports, telecommunications, electricity and public utilities, and soft infrastructure, such as finance, skills, regulations, and institutions”.

The official speeches were followed by a presentation of the paper on the theme by Mr. Charles Nhemachena, ECA SRO-SA Consultant. He reported that the nexus of digitalization, infrastructure, digital skills on one hand and green industrialization on the other is key going forward as the region transitions to a sustainable development path.

The AEGM brought together senior government officials, experts in green industrialization from the SADC member States, representatives of SADC Secretariat, civil society, professional organizations, the UN family and Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) Staff.