Lusaka, Zambia 28 May 2021 (ECA) – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), is committed to supporting member States to domesticate the regional industrial strategies and mainstream them coherently into national development plans and policies to create a platform for the development of regional value chains.
This was said Thursday by the ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa Acting Director, Sizo Mhlanga, in his welcoming remarks during a two-day Forum on the Promotion and Implementation of Regional and National Industrialization Policies for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Southern Africa held on Monday 27 and 28 May 2021. “As you are aware, economic growth in Southern Africa declined from 2.9 percent in 2017 to 1.9 per cent in 2018 and to only 1.4 per cent in 2019. Furthermore, the COVID-19-induced disruptions pushed the region into recession in 2020. The heavy regional dependence on primary commodities and the associated disruption in international supply chains has been the key structural weakness which undermined the growth process, exposing Southern Africa to the vagaries of the global commodity markets”. He said.
Mr. Mhlanga advised that ECA has specifically developed and recently launched a multi-year project on: The promotion and Implementation of Regional and National Industrialisation Policies for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Southern Africa. The project involves among others, knowledge production and dissemination, capacity building activities, advisory services, awareness raising campaigns and sensitisation workshops in support of industrialisation in the region.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Rethabile Maluke, Chair of the 26th Inter-Governmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) of Southern Africa from the Kingdom of Lesotho applauded ECA for bringing together stakeholders to deliberate on the inclusive sustainable development agenda. She observed that the Forum comes at a critical time as Southern African Member States are developing and implementing recovery programmes after the ravages of COVID-19 which pushed back the significant macro and social economic gains the region had enjoyed prior to the pandemic. She noted that the push back by COVID-19 had forced economies into re-engineering modes through multiple initiatives including fiscal and monetary mechanisms in attempts to bring back economic sanity especially the development programmes derailed by the pandemic.
She called on the pursuit of industrialization anchored on the enhanced role of well-capacitated Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to help build sustainable post COVID-19 resilience in Southern Africa and cited concrete examples of progress made in the region including the adoption of regional industrialization policies and strategies by both Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). She further advised that the three analytical studies to be discussed during the Forum critically looked at the national level domestication and implementation of the regional industrialisation frameworks factoring in the opportunities ushered in by the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA).
“There is consensus of the centrality of industrial development to economic diversification, enhancement of productive capacities, the meeting of the needs of regional citizens, the creation of wealth and employment, the reduction of poverty and the setting of the economies on an inclusive and sustainable growth path gives hope to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of Agenda 2063 as expressed in national visions and strategies”.
The Chair called on participants to take advantage of the Forum to provide momentum to the regional industrialization drive and exchange ideas to enhance understanding of the progress made through the three analytical studies commissioned by ECA on: regional economic development in the COVID-19 era; the harmonisation and coherence of industrialisation frameworks; and on the potential of Special Economic Zones for private sector development and inclusive industrialisation.
The Forum was attended by Government representatives from Ministries of Commerce, Industry, Trade, Industrialization, Regional Integration, SADC, COMESA, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Industrial Development UNIDO, United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCOs), United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs), women business organizations, research institutions, youth groups, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.
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