PRETORIA– The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers has opened its two-day meeting here with a call for increased focus on industrialization in the sub-regional bloc to enable its 16 member nations to diversify their economies and expand value chains across southern Africa.
Industrialization remains a core prerequisite for prosperity in the region and has to be achieved through a strong partnership with the private sector, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Lindiwe Sisulu, said at the opening of the meeting Monday.
Sisulu is the new chairperson of the council which oversees the functioning and development of the SADC and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented. The council, which consists of ministers from each of the 16 member nations — usually from the ministries responsible for foreign affairs and international relations, economic planning or finance — meets twice a year.
Sisulu said all SADC members should focus on the need to strengthen the region’s capabilities both inside and outside of government in order to advance regional industrialization. “It is our belief that SADC governments should identify priority value chains and take steps to attract the private sector into these specific sectors, she added.
However, industrial development should be underpinned by sound infrastructure, she tressed. The lack of inter-connectivity and poor transportation within the sub-region had been identified as the key stumbling block for SADC countries to fully move forward with industrialization and processing.
This has pushed the bloc to develop and introduce the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063, which aims to accelerate the momentum towards strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of economies in the region.
The bloc has also adopted the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, which is a comprehensive 15-year strategic roadmap which aims to deepen the integration agenda of SADC with the view of accelerating poverty eradication and other economic and non-economic development goals.
South Africa assumed the chair of the SADC in August last year by emphasizing the need for improved infrastructure which can help to address socio-economic issues, ensure a better quality of life, boost regional economic integration, bridge the inequality gap and aid industrialization efforts.
This is why we adopted the ‘Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains’ as a tenure theme to help mobilize the private sector in addressing this challenge, said Sisulu, adding that South Africa seeks to build momentum and continuity in the collective aspiration towards regional sustainable economic development and industrialization.
As such, it has identified key activities which will be the development of a high impact annual operation plan, with targeted interventions and public policy tools to foster the development of regional value-chains in agro-processing, pharmaceuticals and mineral processing.
As part of our regional strategy, South Africa is also working on a set of deliverables, which will focus on some high-impact cross-border projects in order to support manufacturing and the creation of new regional value chains. We will report back to the next SADC Summit in August this year on progress in this respect, she said.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK