The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat says the private sector should be more instrumental in informing policy decisions by governments if the bloc harbours any ambitions of fulfilling industrialisation objectives.
At the Southern Africa Business Forum (SABF) held in Gaborone in August 2015, six regional working groups were appointed and tasked to come up with ways of creating a conducive business environment in the bloc. Since then, the groups have been working on various projects to accelerate regional development.
At the second annual Southern Africa Business Forum (SABF) held in South Africa recently, SABF reported that they had identified minerals, pharmaceuticals and agro-processing as areas of rapid growth. They urged partnerships to be fostered as this would be significant to regional industrialization.
SABF is a private sector-led inclusive platform for engaging the SADC Secretariat and SADC member states. Its main focus is unlocking value chains in the region, opening up transport corridors, doing trade facilitation, movement of services and skills, water, and energy.
Still at the forum, SADC was also recommended to master the art of cross-border trading and avoid trade barriers. The private sector was also urged to support the cause for industrialisation in the bloc.
What also came out of the meeting was that engagement between the private sector member states at the regional level has been on an ad-hoc basis. As the bloc looks to the 2016 Heads of State Summit in Swaziland, the private sector has been urged to provide its input to ensure that its concerns were taken on board.
The SADC Secretariat is in the process of developing the Action Plan for the SADC industrialisation strategy and are of the view that the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 placed industrialisation at the centre of the regional integration agenda.