Finance Minister Felix Mlusu was Wednesday instated as chairperson for the Inter-governmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts at its 27th session in Blantyre.
Mlusu took over the chairmanship from Thabo Sofonea from the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The session is being held under the theme ‘Building back better from Covid in Southern Africa: Fostering commodity-based Industrialisation, manufacturing, and regional value-chains’.
Mlusu emphasised the need for cross-border collaboration and cooperation among Sothern African countries in areas such as energy and transport.
He said, by joining their stretched resources and pooling expertise, such countries could accelerate implementation of the Southern African Development Community and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) protocols and maximise benefits from the continental market.
“Industrialisation cannot happen in a vacuum. Southern African countries need national industrialisation plans and frameworks that are aligned with regional and continental plans and frameworks. A business-enabling environment must be nurtured, where the perennial challenges associated with energy shortages and deficient infrastructure are addressed.
“The mechanisms must be developed to support the private sector amidst the Covid pandemic and special attention should be paid to saving micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises from collapse and strengthen the competitiveness of its domestic private sector while rethinking their relationships with multi-national companies in the extractive industries. Business ecosystems have to be developed; technology and innovation better harnessed and the looming threat of climate change integrated into the decision-making calculus,” Mlusu said.
United Nations and UNDP Resident Representative Shigeki Komatsubara said the organisation is ready to support the region and Malawi in particular to realise its potential in developing the economy through local solutions.
“There are a number of projects that Malawi is running and can further explore that would help develop the economy, for example the national identity cards project, that has helped remove ghost workers in the government payroll and saved billions of Kwacha. This money could then be used for other developmental projects and in turn enhance growth of the economy,” Komatsubara said.