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Industrialisation Policy Webinar Series aimed at supporting inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Southern Africa

1 February, 2023
Industrialisation Policy Webinar Series aimed at supporting inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Southern Africa

Lusaka, Zambia, 01 February 2023 (ECA SRO SA) – Today, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Sub regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO-SA) kicked off an Industrialisation Policy Webinar Series with discussions focused on the theme “Harnessing the Potential of Special Economic Zones for Private (SEZs) Sector Development and Inclusive Industrialization in Southern Africa”.

The SRO-SA Webinar Series will be organized on the four themes of (i) Leveraging SEZs for private sector development and sustainable industrialization, (ii) COVID-19 coping strategies and economic development in the post COVID era, (iii) Domestication of regional frameworks on industrialization and (iv) National harmonization of regional strategies and policies to support industrial development in Southern Africa.

The discussion on SEZs focused on how to harness a new generation of zones for private sector development and inclusive industrialisation in the region. The overall objective of the Webinar was to disseminate the key policy recommendations from the study on SEZs as well as provide a platform for member States and other stakeholders to discuss and synthesize on the policy directions for harnessing SEZs as a tool to foster competitiveness and private sector development in Southern Africa.

In opening remarks, ECA SRO SA Economic Affairs Officer, Mr. Oliver Maponga highlighted that the webinar would, among others, raise awareness on the significance of SEZs in facilitating inclusive industrialization; interrogate the challenges and opportunities for development of successful SEZs in support of industrial development and discuss fundamental considerations for leveraging SEZs as a development tool in Southern Africa.

Mr Maponga observed that the webinar series comes at a very critical time as it will help to provide practical information and experiences for the implementation of cross-border SEZs in Southern Africa as well as provide lessons to other member States developing SEZs strategies and policies.

Speaking at the same event, the key presenter, Adjunct Professor of Economics Department of Public Management and Economics Faculty of Management Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Professor Gift Mugano said that SEZs are not an end in themselves; they need to be supported by a conducive environment to provide an impulse to industrial development and yield benefits beyond their confined geographical area.

Professor Mugano observed that SEZ policies should be coherent with trade and investment policies, and with business and fiscal regulatory frameworks beyond the zones. He added that effective zone governance by, and coordination between national and local authorities, developers and operating entities is key to gaining and maintaining investors’ trust in the zone and is a precondition for zone success. The experiences of Ethiopia and South Africa in supporting the successful establishment of SEZs was shared and discussed during the webinar. Both experiences underscored the importance of political will and critical significance of investment by Governments in nurturing SEZs.

Representatives of regional member States, the private sector, Civil Society, micro, small and medium enterprises, academia and women business organizations, COMESA, SADC, UNIDO, the African Development Bank and UNECA participated in the webinar

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Bedson Nyoni
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