TANZANIA is hosting the 4th SADC Industrialisation Week this week under the theme; A Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-regional Trade and Job Creation.
It was endorsed by the SADC Council of Ministers to intensify engagement with various partners, including the private sector in order to accelerate the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.
The SADC Industrialisation Week is a public-private engagement platform that helps to foster new opportunities for intra-African trade and investment in the southern African region.
Last year, the SADC Industrialisation Week was held in Windhoek, Namibia under the theme: Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development. In his opening speech, President John Magufuli called on SADC member states to develop their industrial capacities to compete and create job opportunities for its citizens.
He also called on the member states to do away with policies that undermine the potential for more intra-regional trade.
It is a timely call by President Magufuli as manufacturing and trade figures show we still have not made optimal use of trade opportunities created by the SADC Free Trade Area, which is an integrated market of the 16 countries with a population of 327 million and a combined GDP of about 599 billion US dollars by 2016, according to SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax.
It is important that member state implement the protocol on trade which is an agreement between SADC Member States to reduce customs duties and other barriers to trade on imported products amongst SADC Member States.
Promotion of intra-regional trade is important because trade is fundamental to the economic development of a region. It also has broader benefits that support the process of regional integration.
It is argued that nations that ex pand trade with others through liberalisation of trade policies increase economic growth and improve the quality of life of their people.
SADC member states are making steady progress on industrialisation but it seems we are far below our own targets which include to increase the share of manufacturing value added (MV A) in GDP to 20 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2050.
According to Dr Tax, in 2016, SADC’s MV A accounted for 11.6 per cent and grew to only 11.9 per cent in 2018. That shows more needs to be done to attain the milestones we have set for ourselves as a region and in so doing, transform our economies.
We hope that the views, thoughts and insights to be generated during this week will inform national strategies and policy shifts, towards accelerating and upscaling integration through industrialisation in our region.
Issues lik e access to financing in agriculture, constraints to cross-border trade, and energy and transport infrastructure development should be addressed to foster intra-regional trade in order to tak e SADC to a higher transformational growth and developmental trajectory.