When Zimbabwe took over the Sadc Chairmanship in August 2014, it was instrumental in pushing for the front-loading of industrialisation.
At the time, Summit resolved to develop a Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) and Heads of State and Government subsequently adopted the strategy and roadmap at an Extraordinary Summit in April 2015.
The Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap was borne out of the realisation that the regional industrialisation agenda was lagging behind other developmental agendas.
Member states noted the need for the region to produce first in order to trade.
Despite the progress made in other pillars such as market integration (trade), it was noted that intra-regional trade remained low because there was nothing to trade, hence the need to industrialise in order to produce goods that will enable trade.
The Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap is anchored on three pillars: industrialisation, competitiveness and regional Integration. These three pillars are mutually supportive, inseparable, integrated, combined and blended.
Let me unpack their inseparability.
Value chains development is key to the realisation of regional integration and competitiveness.
To this end, each Member State has been requested to indicate its priority value chains.
Zimbabwe indicated its areas of focus on 12 value chains, which were identified by Government in consultation with the private sector.
These are soya, sugar, meat, dairy products, food and drinks, horticulture, forestry, wildlife, fertiliser, mining, cement and pharmaceuticals.
At regional level, three areas have been prioritised, namely; agro-processing, mining and downstream processing.
A consultant was in Zimbabwe in March 2017 to gather information on the country’s priority value chains.
Furthermore, there is an upcoming workshop in South Africa to further discuss the issue. Industry input to this important meeting is, therefore, welcome so that our national interests are taken on board.
US$18 million has been secured from the 11th European Development Fund to assist in detailed value chain mapping on products, which have regional impact and market integration in priority sectors, thereby pushing the agenda of inseparability and mutual supportiveness of the three pillars.
In this regard, efforts are underway to prioritise so that three value chains will be considered per Member State.
I am informed that funding from the World Bank is also available for detailed value chain mapping in the mining sector.
It is still up to us as member states to identify areas where there are regional linkages for consideration in Sadc.
For the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap to be successful, the private sector has to take a leading role since they are the implementers.
Government remains available to create the necessary environment for industry to operate in.
Therefore, the private sector has to advise Government on the structures it deems necessary to spearhead the industrialisation agenda.
The role of business, academia, researchers and Government cannot be over-emphasised in order for this industrialisation agenda to come to fruition.
I am aware of the difficult environment that is currently obtaining and resultantly hindering the performance of local companies. Government continues to look at ways to ease these challenges.
Let me take this opportunity to thank you for remaining resolute and resilient as a people.
I am confident that together we will overcome these challenges.
Let me hasten to say that the industrialisation strategy is not a new concept to us here in Zimbabwe as it dovetails with the context of Zim-Asset; in this respect, 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 at the end of 2016.
It has been agreed at Sadc level that there be an industrialisation week, either on the margins of Sadc Summits or any other agreed week.
The platform provides a forum where businesspeople exchange ideas. As a country, we propose to replicate the idea and have an industrialisation week here in Zimbabwe annually.
The inaugural Sadc industrialisation week was held in Swaziland in August last year.
May I commend the pharmaceuticals sector for representing the Zimbabwe private sector at the occasion. I would like to urge more private sector participation at future events.
It is only logical that our own national industrialisation week come before Sadc’s, which will culminate in the Africa Industrialisation Day which is normally held at national level and supported by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.
Now that we know the three pillars and their MSII nature, all that is left is the will power to implement.
As I mentioned before, Zimbabwe was at the forefront of pushing for the adoption of the Sadc industrialisation agenda.
It is only appropriate for us to take a leading role in the implementation of the same.
The Industry and Commerce Ministry has developed a concept note on how to popularise the strategy.
The concept note has components that indicate short term and medium to long term strategies.
These include national campaigns, incorporating industrialisation at high school level and introducing a private sector forum on industrialisation as well as an advisory council on industrialisation, just to mention a few.
I understand this concept has been shared with all stakeholders. I invite stakeholder comments and ideas to enhance this concept note before it is rolled out.
Honourable Chiratidzo Mabuwa is the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce. She was speaking at a Breakfast Meeting for Popularisation of the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap in Harare last week