Lilongwe, Malawi, 10 May 2023 – “Industrialisation is central to the Government agenda of structural transformation of the economy. It is envisaged that industrialisation will transform Malawi from a predominantly consuming and importing country to a predominantly producing and exporting country, thereby reducing the overriding trade deficit” says Ms. Sphiwe Mauwa, Director of Administration, Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI).
She was speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary (MoIT) Ms. Christina Zakeyo at a validation meeting on the successor National Industrial Policy (NIP), held in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO-SA) in Lilongwe. Ms. Mauva lauded ECA SRO-SA for supporting the comprehensive analysis and review of the newly drafted National Industrial Policy so that it is aligned to the regional industrial policies as well as aligning the Industrial Policy to the Malawi 2063 Agenda.
ECA SRO-SA supported the development of the new NIP that is aligned to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Industrialization Strategies and the, the Malawi 2063 agenda and its first implementation plan (MIP1), the National Export Strategy II and other relevant polices and strategies of the Government of Malawi. The purpose of the validation meeting was to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss, validate and suggest changes to the draft policy document.
Ms. Olayinka Bandele, Chief, Inclusive Industrialization ECA, speaking on behalf of ECA SRO-SA Director, Ms. Eunice Kamwendo, said that this important step Malawi is taking is vital as it plays a pivotal role in driving economic growth, promoting diversification, generating employment, adding value to exports, fostering technology transfer and innovation, facilitating regional integration, advancing sustainable development, and improving social welfare.
She emphasised the need for Malawi to diversify its economy away from over-dependence on agriculture that makes the country vulnerable to external shocks. She noted that, “Industrialization has the potential to create employment opportunities, alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods. Furthermore, value addition to raw materials through industrialization enhances market competitiveness and export earnings. Technological advancements and innovation fostered by industrial development leads to productivity gains and global competitiveness”.
The participants were welcomed by Mr. Jabusile Shumba, Development Coordination Officer, representing the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malawi, Ms. Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, and the UN family in Malawi. He underpinned UN support to the Industrialization development agenda in Malawi in support of Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, Innovations and Infrastructure and through support of national priorities, development strategies and plans to improve the impact, efficiency and effectiveness of industrial policy development in Malawi.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of the draft policy document by ECA Consultant Dr Christopher Guta who shared broad policy directions, which included: policy goals, outcomes, objectives, guiding principles and intervention areas. The proposed seven priority areas for policy action and reform include among others: increasing productive capacities in manufacturing, agriculture and services, greening industrialization, value addition and deepening value chains as key to Malawi’s industrial development.
The presentation was followed by plenary discussions and break out sessions that tackled industrial policy priority areas and policy recommendations, implementation arrangements, costing the implementation plan and monitoring and evaluation. The group session recommendations were aligned to the draft policy document, with the suggestions put forward aimed at strengthening the policy directions in the final NIP.
The meeting was closed by the Department of Industry and ECA, who challenged stakeholders to own the process, so that the industrial policy serves its purpose. The partners also presented the way forward and timelines of the policy document, which will be in the hands of the Malawi government following finalization of the policy document in June.