By Byron Mutingwende
The implementation of the Action Plan for Industrialization is an initiative that should be driven at national level with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) only playing a supportive role.
Speaking during the SADC Industrialisation and Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) workshop held at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare on 28 July 2017, Florence Makombe, the Director of Enterprises in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said the SADC integration and industrialisation agenda was critical for Zimbabwe.
“As a country, we continue to be committed and collectively engaged in ensuring that the process improves the standards of living for the local citizenry. The industrialisation strategy is not a new concept to us here in Zimbabwe as it dovetails within the context of our economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), particulary, the Value Addition and Beneficiation cluster. It is also in line with the Zimbabwe Industrial Development Policy (2017- 2021) which is being finalised to replace the one that expired end of 2016,” Makombe said.
When Zimbabwe took over the chairmanship of SADC in August 2014 in Victoria Falls, the country was instrumental in pushing for the frontloading of industrialisation in deepening regional integration.
The SADC Summit then resolved to develop a SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), a Strategy that seeks to achieve structural transformation of the SADC region, by way of industrialization, modernization and upgrading of productive systems and deeper regional integration.
The Strategy is anchored on three mutually supportive, inseparable and integrated pillars, namely; Industrialization, Competitiveness and Regional Integration, with priority on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and downstream processing value chains.
The development of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap was borne out of the realisation that the industrialization agenda in the region was lagging behind other regional developmental agenda.
Despite the progress made in other pillars such as market integration through the SADC Free trade Area, it was noted that the value of intra-SADC trade remained very low, at around 17% of total SADC Trade.
To address this challenge, it was collectively agreed that the region needed to implement effective strategies that boost the productive capacity of the local industries, to produce more of manufactured goods in order to improve intra-regional trade.
In April 2015, the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government approved the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.
Following the approval of the SADC Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), Summit directed the SADC Secretariat to develop a detailed and costed Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategy. Furthermore, it was directed to design and develop an appropriate institutional framework to implement the Strategy.
Subsequently in March 2017, in Swaziland, the Costed Action Plan for implementation of the Strategy was approved and, Council directed the Secretariat to roll out the Action Plan in all Member States and to provide assistance to those Member States that would have requested for such support in determining their public coordination costs.
The rolling out of the Costed Action Plan is very crucial, as it will ensure a wider understanding by various players of the Action Plan.
The program will highlight the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders during the implementation process and these include the Secretariat, Member States, private sector, bureau of standards, trade and investment support institutions, think tanks, academia, research institutions, women and youth bodies.
The exercise will also help to highlight the linkages between activities undertaken at the national level and other activities in neighbouring countries and the region as a whole to provide a larger market for goods and services and foster deeper regional integration.
Furthermore, the roll out is also aimed at developing a unified approach in determining the national indicative public coordination costs for the implementation of the Action Plan for the SADC industrialization Strategy and Roadmap.
For the SADC Industrialization Strategy to be successful, the private sector has to take a leading role since they are the implementers; while Government remains at their disposal to create the enabling environment for value chain development and industrialization.
Makombe added that any industrialisation would require investment by private sector players working closely with the Government.
“We therefore call for continued collaboration between the various stakeholders, in order to spearhead the industrialization agenda at national level. The role of Academia, Researchers and Civil Societies cannot be over emphasized in order for this industrialization agenda to come to fruition,” Makombe said.
In his presentation, Farai Zizhou, the SADC Advisor – Tripartite Industrial Development, said transforming the economy of Zimbabwe could only be done by the private sector investment, with the Government playing a facilitative role as well as by providing the necessary incentive systems.
“Zimbabwe has no choice but to gear up and compete at both national, regional and global levels. The continued need for policy space for infant industries can easily lead to a lame duck economy. That way, the country can be left behind by other SADC countries in terms of industrialization,” Zizhou said.
He said the strategy emphasises the pursuit of targeted and selected industrial policies to create conditions for higher rates of investment by the public and private sectors to enable crucial sectors to prosper, especially value-adding manufacturing to grow.
SADC Member States have committed themselves to investment-led trade and regional economic and industrial integration.
There is a need for an inclusive approach to the strategy, enhancing forms of industrial development by upgrading SMEs, and establishing clusters and regional and international value chains as well as building the requisite capacities and capabilities of people and institutions through improving their entrepreneurial skills.
A value chain identifies the full range of activities that firms undertake to bring a product or a service from its conception to its end use by final consumers. At each step in the chain, value is added in some form or other.
Zizhou said value chains expand production possibilities and enhance cross-border utilisation of the natural and human resources. He added that participation allows advantageous integration in the highly competitive world of the 21st century.
He added that to achieve targeted growth rates, investment ratios of close to 40% of GDP will be required and said savings rates should accordingly be doubled from current levels to minimise the resource gap.
Sifelani Jabangwe, the President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) said as a business member organization, CZI has a key role in the SADC strategy.
“CZI has about 12 industrial associations. The visions and strategies of these industrial associations add up to make the national industrial vision and strategy. Thus from these strategies, CZI extracts lobby positions for these various sectors. What this requires is that our top industrialists need to participate in the development of strategic positions for the sectors where they belong,” Jabangwe said.
He added that industry could not afford to focus on business only without focusing on regional issues. He said industry needs to be the one that gives the value chain positions to participate in the strategy (being proactive) rather than leaving decisions to be made on them by others.