By Deogratias Mmana
President Lazarus Chakwera has asked leaders in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to review policies that hinder industrialisation.
Chakwera said this Monday at the opening of the fifth Sadc industrialisation week and exhibition, which was officially opened by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.
He said Sadc member states are failing to promote value addition in the primary sectors of industrialisation, which include agriculture and mining and which give large shares of their GDP.
According to the Sadc Industrial Development Policy Framework, the contribution of these sectors to the GDP stands at an average of 50 percent, which Chakwera said is relatively high.
“This fact alone makes it obvious that the lowest hanging fruit for our industrialisation agenda is value addition in these primary sectors which is currently stuck around 14 percent of GDP across the region,” Chakwera said, adding that the contribution of the manufacturing sector has been stagnant for some time.
As part of the solution to the problem, Chakwera said: “The first thing to look at in addressing this malaise is the policy framework, for it is clear that governments within our region have been implementing policies that hinder the transformation of our economies from raw resource dependency to value-adding production through technological research and innovation.”
As for Malawi, he said the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP has slumped from 20 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2020.
When he opened the week, the Mozambican president challenged Sadc member states to come up with sound economic policies that will promote industrialisation.
Nyusi, the immediate past Sadc chairperson, said the Sadc region should be competitive on the market so that it does not become a dumping site.
Madalitso Kazembe, speaking on behalf of the Sadc Business Council chairperson, said trade in the region is compromised by a number of challenges, one of which has been Covid.
Kazembe added that there is also a need for a permanent structure for identifying and systematically resolving non-tariff barriers and trade facilitation issues at regional level.
She also said the Sadc region is faced with inefficiencies across transport corridors, which she said are a huge impediment to growth.
“These inefficiencies are adding costs to the supply chain,” Kazembe said.
She said the annual Sadc industrialisation week is the SBC’s flagship where business and the public sector have a joint declaration on key issues to realising the Sadc industrialisation strategy, whose key focus areas are pharmaceuticals, minerals value chain and agriculture.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Director, Eunice Kamwendo, challenged Sadc countries to focus on productive capacities in promoting industrialisation.
“The productive capacity index for the Sadc and Africa region is lower than that of many other developing regions. This comes as no surprise –while African countries score high on aspects such as natural and human capital, most countries fall short on key enablers such as energy, Information Communication Technology transport or even private-sector strength,” said Kamwendo.
Nyusi arrived in the country yesterday on a three-day visit and would return on Wednesday.