PATSON PHIRI, Lusaka
ZAMBIA is taking a front seat in advancing policies espoused by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to drive the industrialisation agenda as a spear-point for economic development.
This came to light during the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Ezulwini, Swaziland, on Saturday which was attended by President Lungu and Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba.
During the summit, the leaders spoke the Zambian agenda to turn the region into a developed lot which President Lungu has entrenched through his vision broadly wrapped into the African Unionâ€™s Agenda 2063.
The costed action plan for the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap for SADC was presented to an extraordinary summit of SADC.
The action plan seeks to establish a coherent and synergistic implementation scheme containing strategic options and general policies towards the progressive attainment of time-bound targets set out in the strategy and roadmap.
The action plan focuses on the first 15 years of the strategy timeframe, and aims to create an enabling environment for sustaining industrial development as a driver of economic transformation, and establish an enduring alliance for industrialisation consisting of public and private sectors as well as strategic partners.
It was developed as an inclusive long-term plan for modernisation and economic transformation that should enable substantial and sustained economic development to raise living standards, focusing on enhanced regional integration, competitiveness and standardisation.
According to Mr Kalaba, who spoke shortly before departure for Swaziland, the SADC targets are well anchored on Zambiaâ€™s development agenda.
In a bid to improve the operating environment, SADC plans to develop and operationalise a Protocol on Industry by 2020, which should lead to the development of industrialisation policies and strategies at national level.
Where member states like Zambia already have such policies and strategies, they should be reviewed and aligned to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
Member states will be required to develop national Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation (IUM) Programme by 2018 and implement these by 2020.
These should be in line with the SADC IUM Programme, which provides the basis for a sector-specific approach to industrialisation in the region, focusing on upgrading existing manufacturing capacities, modernising productive facilities, reinforcing the institutional support infrastructure, and strengthening regional capacity for research and innovation.
There is also a target to progressively increase the share of gross domestic investment to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 25 percent by 2020 and to 30 percent by 2025.
To achieve these targets, there are plans to develop a SADC Investment Promotion Framework as well as a SADC Regional Action Programme on Investment to accompany it.
To encourage the creation of regional value chains and participation in global processes, the region has identified five priority areas in which the value chains can be established and for which regional strategies should be developed by 2020.
These are in the areas of agro-processing, minerals beneficiation, consumer goods, capital goods, and services.
A detailed value chain study is proposed for specific products or services in the priority areas.
As part of the process of promoting value-chain participation, there are plans to develop model legislation and regulations for intra-SADC agro-processing, minerals beneficiation and other manufacturing activities and services.
Reduction or removal of structural impediments to industrialisation is another target being pursued by SADC. In this regard, there is need to improve power generation capacity and facilitate an increase in the development and use of renewable sources of energy as well as ensure adequate water supply.
There is also need to reduce delays at ports and border posts and shorten the duration of movement of goods across borders in the SADC region. This will involve harmonisation of border-crossing procedures in SADC by 2020.
The action plan also proposes an active role for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the SADC industrialisation agenda. SMEs are an important variable in SADC development plans, representing 90 percent of all businesses and accounting for more than 50 percent of employment.
Interventions under the competitiveness pillar are aimed at strengthening of both the macroeconomic and microeconomic environments in the region.
Initiatives proposed include the development of industrial investment programmes to support SMEs by 2018, training for skills, entrepreneurial and managerial development, and centres of specialisation for priority sectors.
The regional integration pillar aims to widen the economic space for development and create incentives for industry to expand, thus providing opportunities for economies of scale, clustering and economic linkages.
Specific interventions under this pillar include full implementation of the SADC Free Trade Area to cover all member states; a common external tariff by 2025; gradual phase-down and abolition of rules of origin by 2025; liberalisation of exchange controls to allow free movement of capital within SADC by 2030; and ratification of the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services for implementation by 2020.
Prior to the opening of the Heads of State and Government Summit, ministers from 15 countries in Southern Africa met in Swaziland to discuss the actions, policy interventions and macro-economic environment needed for industrialisation of the region.
The meeting was the council of ministers which debates matters for presentation to the Heads of State and Government.
The vision of Southern Africa as an industrialised and integrated region could soon become a reality, thanks to this process of developing an industrialisation action plan, now being costed for implementation.
SADC executive secretary Stergomena Tax said the draft action plan was approved by the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Integration.
â€œIt is anticipated that council will reflect on the proposed activities contained in the action plan around the three main pillars of the strategy,â€ Dr Tax said during the opening session of the council of ministers in Mbabane.
Swazilandâ€™s Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini said the action plan â€œoutlines the actions, policy interventions and the necessary macro-economic environment for industrialisation.â€
â€œI am informed that the Costed Action Plan on Industrialisation is about US$100 million for coordination at the level of SADC Secretariat and member states over the 15-year period extending from 2015 to 2030,â€ Mr Dlamini said during the official opening the council of ministers meeting.
PATSON PHIRI, Lusaka