Lilongwe, Malawi, 22 November 2021 (ECA) - President of Malawi, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera yesterday issued a stark warning to SADC member States that if industrialization does not take root in the region, Southern Africa risks becoming a dumping ground for products from other nations and could fail to reap the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). President Chakwera made this pronouncement on Monday at the opening of the fifth SADC industrialisation week and exhibition, which was officially opened by the President of the Republic of Mozambique, His Excellency Filipe Nyusi.
The President further stated that the SADC Free Trade Area and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be meaningless and not achieve their intended purposes without industrialization relegating the sub-region to a real junk yard for the rest of the continent and the world.
“For us Malawians, this is simply unacceptable. That is why when we developed the Malawi 2063 Agenda, which is our blueprint for development in the next 42 years, we put industrialisation as one of the three pillars for becoming an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant upper middle-income country”, he emphasized.
President Chakwera said since the MW2063 aligns with the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, it will greatly contribute to a shared regional integration agenda.
In his statement, President Nyusi, who is the immediate past SADC chairperson, called for enhanced collaboration between State and non-State actors, especially the private sector, to champion the industrialisation drive in the SADC region for shared growth. He further added that industrialisation is key for economic development and hailed SADC for bringing together member States and their stakeholders, especially the private sector to participate in brainstorming how best to create productive and industrialised economies in the region. President Nyusi challenged SADC member States to be creative and to come up with sound economic policies that will promote industrialisation.
Meanwhile, SADC Executive Secretary, H.E Elias Mpedi Magosi, advised that industrialisation cannot be achieved unless the private sector plays its part. “The time to be counted and play your role is now. Play your part, assist this region and its leadership to actualize industrialisation”, he emphasised.
Speaking at the same event, Malawi’s Minister of Industry, Roy Kachale said it is undisputed that industrialisation plays a vital role in economic development. “The world’s developed countries broke the vicious cycle of poverty by industrialising instead of just focusing solely on agriculture and/or the production of primary commodities and natural resources” Mr Kachale added.
On her part, Director for Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Subregional Office for Southern Africa Ms. Eunice Kamwendo bemoaned the slow progress towards the SADC Industrialization agenda which is yet to fully materialize in the region with the share of manufacturing value-added to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) failing to increase significantly over the last five years.
With the sub-region contracting the largest out of all the sub-regions in Africa, Ms. Kamwendo connected the region’s lack of resilience in the face of shocks to weak levels of industrialization and a lack of economic diversification. She advised that industrialization through trade should be an important priority for the region using the SADC Free Trade Area and the AfCFTA as important vehicles to accelerate industrialization and bolster productive capacities and entrepreneurial capacities.
“Ms. Kamwendo highlighted a few technical assistance initiatives being implemented by the ECA’s Southern African Office to build productive capacities within the sub-region, such as the development of a common agro-industrial park across Zambia and Zimbabwe; strengthening of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in partnership with the SADC Business Council as well as helping countries to become AfCFTA-ready through well thought-out national plans and strategies to compete and succeed.
Speaking on behalf of the SADC Business Council, Madalitso Kazembe said the umbrella body is working on improving the business environment amid the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. She said this is being done through resolving non-tariff trade barriers by working with business associations in collaboration with the SADC Secretariat.
The SADC Industrialisation Week is an annual public-private engagement platform to foster new opportunities for intra-African trade and investment. The theme for this year is ‘Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of Covid-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable Economic and Industrial Transformation’. The ECA Sub-regional office for Southern Africa organized two sessions at the SADC Industrialization Week, in collaboration with the SADC Business Council on the themes of ‘building linkages between MSMEs and Southern-led Multinational Corporations’ and ‘the role of technology incubators in MSME development in the region.’ The deliberations of these two sessions will support the production of studies on the two respective themes and inform future interventions to support inclusive industrialisation in the region.
The Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 30647, Lusaka, Zambia.
Mrs. Lavender Degre,
Tel: +260 211 228502/5 Ext. 21307
DL: +260 211 376607