Dar es Salaam. The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) secretariat has urged member states to hasten their industrialisation efforts, discontented with the fact that the region has only been able to meet 8.6 per cent of its planned output so far.
At least 58 outputs were to be achieved during the first phase of the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy, which runs from 2015-2020.
Speaking during the official opening of the meeting of the Sadc Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the 16 nation bloc’s executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, said out of 58 outputs, only five had been implemented.
She said that 46 were ongoing and seven were yet to be undertaken during the first phase, which runs from 2015-2020.
She said more efforts were required at both national and regional levels to ensure realisation of the target.
“We need to reflect and understand why some of the activities are yet to be implemented and what should be done. Otherwise we will be singing the song of industrialisation with very minimal progress,” she said.
The new chairperson of the Sadc Council of Ministers, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, who took over from Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah of Namibia, said advancement in industrial sector cannot be achieved if Sadc member states do not take deliberate efforts to create a conducive environment for the growth of the sector.
According to the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business Index, only five out of 16 Sadc countries are in the top 10 African countries that have improved their way of doing business.
“Our central role should focus on creation of an enabling policy and regulatory environment for accelerated industrialisation,” said Prof Kabudi.
The Tanzanian Foreign Affairs minister added that governments need to engage and dialogue with the private sector on the importance of their role if the industrialisation dream is to be achieved.
One of the key objectives of the integration is to boost intra-regional trade, which currently stands below 20 per cent, hindering member states from realising their economic potentials.
“Efforts to increase intra-regional trade through implementation of the Sadc Protocol on Trade (2005) and the establishment of Sadc Free trade area in 2008 must be hastened,” said Prof Kabudi.
The outgoing council of ministers chairperson Ms Ndaitwah called for prioritisation of trade facilitation with regards to hard and soft infrastructure.
“We have to find ways of reducing transport costs and transit delays. All that is necessary to prepare the region to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area.”