The Southern African Development Community Region will remain a dumping ground for processed goods from other regions if it does not industrialise, President of the Republic of Malawi and SADC Chairperson, His Excellency President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, has said.
H. E President Chakwera delivered the remarks at the official opening of the SADC Industrialisation Week (SIW) in Lilongwe, Malawi, on 22nd November, 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”.
H. E 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%, remain the Region’s low hanging fruits for the accomplishment of the industrialisation agenda.
When officially opening the event, Mozambican President, H. E Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, highlighted that SIW brings together Member States and the Private Sector for public-private engagement to foster new opportunities for intra-African trade and investment in the area.
He concurred with H. E President Chakwera that it was time the Region stopped being used as a dumping ground for products imported from other regions. He said the SADC Region is endowed with raw materials such as gas, tobacco and minerals capable of bringing economic prosperity to the Region.
SADC Executive Secretary, H. E Elias Mpedi Magosi, indicated that industrialisation will remain a pie in the sky without the active participation of the Private Sector. He said as long as the Region remains a dumping ground of processed goods from other regions, it means other economies are developing at the expense of the SADC Region.
The Executive Secretary said there is a need for the Region to move with speed towards industrialisation. He cited that the policies and strategies are in place and what remains is for the Public and Private Sector to engage and play their meaningful roles in promoting intra-regional trade.
Speaking at the same function, Ms Eunice Kamwendo, Director for Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub-regional office for Southern Africa, said that it was sad that the industrialisation promise was yet to materialise in the SADC Region as the share of manufacturing value added to Southern Africa’s GDP had failed to increase 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 installment of the SIW brought together public-private players and captains of industry to discuss new opportunities for promotion of intra-trade and investment in the Region and beyond.
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.