WINDHOEK, 16 JUL – The third annual Southern African Development Community (SADC) Industrialisation Week is expected to broaden the participation of the private sector, youth and women in the implementation of the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
It will take place in Windhoek from 30 July until 01 August 2018 under the theme ‘Promoting Infrastructure and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.’
The Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap was adopted by the SADC Extraordinary Summit held in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2015. It is aimed at accelerating the comparative and competitive advantages of the economies of the region.
Part of the week’s agenda will be popularising and creating awareness of the strategy amongst member states and giving them an update of what the SADC Secretariat is doing in terms of its implementation.
The strategy was developed as an inclusive long-term plan for modernisation and economic transformation that should enable substantial and sustained economic development to raise living standards.
“The private sector is currently the engine of economic growth in the region and if we as a secretariat and the region do not address the policy regulations or the business environment, the private sector cannot support economic growth in the region,” Senior Programme Officer for Industrialisation and Competitiveness at the SADC Secretariat in Namibia, Dr Johansein Rutaihwa told Nampa in an interview on Friday.
Energy will also feature during the industrialisation week, with the SADC Regional Gas Masterplan which is aimed at assisting in shifting market dynamics to attract investment and develop natural gas resources. Expertise on the topic will form part of the dialogues during the week.
“Industrialisation without input on energy cannot work,” Rutaihwa said.
He noted that currently, the cost of access, availability and affordability of energy in the region is higher than in other countries.
The Regional Gas Masterplan will thus ensure that people in the region are able to access and afford energy.
“Apart from access, availability of energy should be there to allow them to operate,” he stated.
Visits to small, medium and micro-sized enterprises; finance and investment and textile manufacturing entities, as well as to the Meat Corporation of Namibia; Namibia Breweries Limited; and Namib Poultry Industry will also form part of Industrialisation Week.
Currently, intra-trade among SADC member states is low, with South Africa dominating exports in the region primarily because of its manufacturing capacity.
Rutaihwa said intra-trade in the region is as low as 20 per cent.
“If you look at the categorisation of intra-trade itself in terms of the export of manufactured goods, you find that we are trading more in agro-processing, which is not our focus. We would want to go to medium and high-tech products, where South Africa has the competitive advantage,” he said.
He noted that this was why South Africa’s intra-trade figures are higher than other member states which are trading agro-based products like mangos and bananas.
Rutaihwa said other member states can ensure good policy measures and measures that will allow the private sector to operate within the region to guarantee that they uplift and contribute to trade in the region.
“The second thing that will contribute to the increase of intra-trade is the availability, affordability and accessibility of energy. The third will be infrastructure connectivity because the cost of transportation in the region is still very high,” he said.