The fifth edition of the SADC Industrialisation Week (SIW) has fulfilled its purpose of providing a platform for sharing ideas on unpacking the regional industrialisation agenda, Honourable Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources for the Republic of Malawi, Ms Nancy Tembo, said.
She said the Region has great potential to substantially increase the manufacturing sector's contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with proper implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) to promote intra-regional trade.
The Government of Malawi jointly organised SIW with the SADC Secretariat and the SADC Business Council under the theme 'Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 for Inclusive, Sustainable Economic and Industrial Transformation', from 22nd to 26th November 2021.
The forum declared the following as key priority areas that require attention and action from Member States:
In financing industrialisation, the cost of funding remains an issue for emerging and less experienced businesses and project owners. It is something that needs to be looked at to reduce the reliance on offshore capital investments;
In research, innovation and technology development, Member States should support the start-ups, incubator programmes, and technology hubs to advance innovation, prototyping and business modelling. Also, investment is required in emerging technologies and data-driven technologies to support industrial development and leverage opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). SADC futures should be re-imagined in the new era of digital transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in digitisation, green economy, democracy and governance and strengthening of innovation ecosystems;
For mining, it was observed that Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) are negatively impacting Africa's development, particularly investment in the mining industry. More robust collaboration and cooperation between governments and the private sector is critical in ensuring that any research conducted on IFFs is verified and tested by all relevant state institutions and the private sector;
In the area of-processing; agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, value addition and agro-processing value chains are vital contributors to the development of agro-industries in the Region that are needed to enhance intra-regional and export trade, industrialise local economies, grow rural areas enterprises, create new job opportunities, and address rural poverty;For trade and trade facilitation, it was noted that the SADC Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and Trade Facilitation Working Group will pave the way for a sustainable public-private dialogue on NTBs, which can improve the resolution of NTBs. This will align and harmonise regulatory tax policies in the SADC Region to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
In pharmaceuticals, the Support towards Industrialisation and the Productive Sectors in the SADC Region (SIPS) programme has successfully supported projects to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). . It has a high potential to scale into other areas (including COVID-19 treatment and ARVs) through upcoming calls for proposals. Harmonisation of medicine registration policies is a crucial enabler. The SADC Regulatory Forum should be supported to speed up registration and distribution of essential medicines and create a pathway for speedy registration of innovative medicines while respecting intellectual property rights. Member States could enhance technology transfer, joint ventures and licences by increasing the availability of trusted, experienced, and technically capable local partners.
All stakeholders, including Member States, the private sector, civic society organisations, academic and research institutions, and regional and International Cooperating Partners were encouraged to facilitate and support the implementation of this Declaration at national and regional levels and undertake to review its implementation regularly and to report the progress at the next SIW in 2022.