By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – Namibia through the Ministry Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development is hosting the 3rd SADC Industrialisation Week that started on Sunday and being held under the theme: “Promoting Infrastructure and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.
In its third year, the annual three-day event is a public-private engagement platform aimed at fostering new opportunities for intra-African trade and investment in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
It further seek to spread knowledge among the Southern African community at large, including Governments, private sector, academia, research institutions and think tanks, and the general populace to ensure wider understanding and acceptability of the SADC Industrialization Strategy.
Alongside the industrialisation week is the side exhibition, organised to promote business, trade and investment in Namibia and SADC region at large. About 150 businesses including SMEs from across the region are taking part in the exhibition at Safari Court and Conference Centre.
Speaking at the official opening of the event on Monday, Namibia’s Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Minister Tjekero Tweya said that it provide a platform for disseminating information on the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap.
Tweya emphasized that the “will also act as a platform for intensifying the engagement and development of partnerships among policy makers, private sector, academia, researchers and other key stakeholders to promote the SADC Industrialization Strategy at national and regional levels”.
In March, 2016, the SADC Council of Ministers directed the SADC Secretariat in coordination with Member States to intensify engagement with the private sector to accelerate the implementation of the regional Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
This led to the endorsement of industrialisation week to be held annually as an annual regional public-private engagement platform aimed at fostering new opportunities for intra-regional trade and investment.
The first edition was held on the margin of the 36th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Mbabane, Eswatini in August, 2016. Last year in July, it hosted by South Africa during the 37th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.
Minister Tweya noted that platform such as the SADC Industriliastion Week, “enables organized companies operating in a various industries to display their latest products and services as well as learning the activities of others businesses, examine market trends and identify business opportunities.
“It is worth noting that, exhibitions are very important events that bring producers and suppliers of goods and services as well as potential customers together to provide the necessary exposure and opportunities for sales and business linkages”.
Also speaking at the official opening, Tapiwa Samanga, the Director for Industrial Development and Trade at SADC spoke of the importance of industrialization and called on member states to trade with each other.
The current situation is that countries like Namibia “does not buy enough from Botswana, Angola and the other member states and this is a situation that we want to change,” Samanga said. “Industrialisation is the only way we will be able to generate the capacity to produce what we can sell to each other”.
The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015 – 2063) was developed and approved in Zimbabwe capital Harare in April 2015. And to give impetus to the industrialisation process, the SADC Summit also approved the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2015 – 2020.
The RISDP, which was formally adopted by in August 2003 is a 15- year regional integration and development framework that prioritizes industrial development and market integration and places industrialisation at the center of the regional integration agenda.
The 2018 SADC Industriliasation Week precedes the 38th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit that will take place from 17th to 18th August 2018, under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development” in Windhoek.
During the Summit, Namibian President Hage Geingob will take over the rotational chairmanship of the 16 member regional economic bloc from his South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa.
SADC main objectives are to achieve economic development, peace and security, and growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa
Member countries are Angola, Botswana, Union of Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.