SADC business community move forward with industrialisation of the region

14:26 / 13 APR 2016

JOHANNESBURG, April 13 (ANA) – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat on Tuesday said the private sector should be more instrumental in informing policy decisions by governments if the region wanted to succeed and meet its industrialisation objectives.

Representatives of SADC Secretariat and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Business Foundation met during the second annual Southern Africa Business Forum (SABF) in Johannesburg on Tuesday to take forward the outcomes of their 2015 inaugural meeting.

During the 2015 SABF held on the margins of the SADC Heads of State Summit in August, in Gaborone, Botswana, six regional working groups were appointed to unlock barriers to industrialisation and business development, and to find ways of creating an enabling business environment in the region as agreed in the Savuti Declaration.

SABF is a private sector-led inclusive platform for engaging the SADC Secretariat and SADC member states.

The SABF six working groups have been working on various projects to accelerate regional development with a focus on unlocking value chains in the region, opening up transport corridors, doing trade facilitation, movement of services and skills, water, and energy.

Gainmore Zanawe, head of industrialisation at the SADC Secretariat, said the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 placed industrialisation at the centre of the regional integration agenda and would seek to catalyse industrialisation.

“However, in order to ensure that the Revised RISDP and the industrialisation strategy are fully implemented, there ius a need for effective partnership between the public and private sector. The challenge is that engagement between the private sector member states at the regional level has been on an ad-hoc basis,” Zanawe said.

Zanawe also added that since the Secretariat was in the process of developing the Action Plan for the SADC industrialisation strategy, he would like to invite the private sector to provide its input to ensure that its concerns were taken on board.

Among the private and public sector members at the SABF were representatives from Deloitte, Johnson and Johnson, SAB Miller, Nestle, Anglo-American, regional and national business associations, as well as high level representatives of ministries of trade and industry from at least nine countries.

Lynette Chen, chief executive of the NEPAD Business Foundation, said the SABF had identified minerals, pharmaceuticals and agro-processing as areas of rapid growth in which the partnerships should be fostered for regional industrialisation and to do business for development.

Chen said European countries had mastered the art of cross-border trading and doing business, adding that African countries should emulate the same methods and avoid trade barriers.

Chen made an example of an Airbus aircraft, whose body parts were manufactured from many specialist countries around Europe and imported into France where the plane was assembled.

“We want the private sector to champion the industrialisation in the region. We would like to see their ideas translated into projects and inform policy decisions as we move on to the SADC 2016 Heads of State Summit in Swaziland,” Chen said.

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