• Empower women, youth entrepreneurs
  • Allow free flow of expatriates
  • Reduce roadblocks for health drugs
  • Investment in digital skills, AI, robotics,
  • Create a-political arbitration body

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has advised its Members States to put policies in place that will promote the involvement of women and young entrepreneurs in the regional value chain process among many other robust reforms.

The 16 countries, which also includes Namibia, South Africa, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Madagascar are further advised to reduce procedural obstacles such as free movement of skilled persons and technical barriers to improve intra-Africa trade.

These are some of the swift declarations of the recently-concluded Fourth Annual SADC Industrialisation Week held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

The meeting was jointly organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Tanzania, the SADC Secretariat, and the SADC Business Council under the theme ‘A Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, increased intra-regional trade, and job creation’.

The event was hosted in preparation for the upcoming 39th Session of SADC Heads of States and Government Summit to be held on 17-18 August. Sessions during the industrialisation week discussed infrastructure development in Africa and regional value chains as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Those in attendance included senior government officials from SADC Member States, business representatives in the region and beyond, other regional and international cooperating partners as well as key stakeholders. 

“[The meeting declared] there is a need to prioritize and promote youth, women and SMEs participation in regional value chains and industrialisation,” a communique of the meeting read.

“To build capacity of women to integrate them into regional value chains, facilitate their financial inclusion and create targeted incentives. [And] to incorporate entrepreneurship as part of the syllabus in the education systems.”

Another declaration was the request for SADC Member States to revisit the issue of work permits as well as consider the value of trade in services for regional value chain development. 

It was further noted that SADC countries must identify barriers in agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and pharmaceuticals, as well as the related capital goods and services through the bloc’s secretariat mechanisms including the Industrial Development Forum.

“[It is declared] there is a need to reduce roadblocks and other non-trade barriers within SADC countries to speed up delivery and reduce costs of pharmaceutical goods, particularly cold chain stock.

“Member States are urged to introduce duty free systems on import of raw and packaging materials, provide incentives for local manufacturing, establish pooled procurement on raw materials and medical equipment to promote local pharmaceutical manufacturing.”

The communique added that the bloc should investment in skills development in areas of digital skills, data science, artificial intelligence and robotics, 3D printing, in order to leverage the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution for industrial development.

“Skills competition and innovation awards programmes (need) to be established at national and regional levels. Investment in research and innovation infrastructures, centres of excellence, industrial and innovation parks to support development of regional value chain.”

On the subject of finance for infrastructure and industrialisation, the meeting noted that the bloc must reduce risk in infrastructure development to attract the private sector to invest.

SADC Member States, the meeting advise, must: “Establish and sustain a free and reliable arbitration body in the SADC region which will operate in an independent manner, without political interference.”

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