SADC courts media to advance industrialisation strategy agenda
By Mpho Tebele
GABORONE – As part of its effort to raise media awareness and build partnerships on the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map, the SADC Secretariat in Gaborone organised a media awareness workshop with senior media practitioners from different media houses in Botswana.
Speaking at the event, acting director for Industrial Development and Trade (IDT) Dr. Lomkhosi Mkhonta-Gama, who represented the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said with proper understanding of the Industrialisation Strategy, the media could play an important role in raising awareness about the strategy which was launched in August 2015.
Mkhota-Gama said through partnership with the media, the SADC Secretariat seeks to afford the citizens of the SADC Region the opportunity to contribute to the rolling out of the regional agendas through efficient and effective communication and information flow.
“At the SADC Secretariat, we consider the media as a critical stakeholder in moving the industrialisation programmes in the SADC region forward.
It is with that understanding that we have organised this workshop to enable you, as decision makers in the newsrooms and media houses, to fully understand the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map so that you become more knowledgeable and skillful journalists on stories of industrialisation in SADC,” said Mkhota-Gama.
Explaining the role of value chain in the SADC Industrialisation Strategy, programme officer, Dr Monanne Monanne, said value chain and development could assist SADC utilise resources and participate in the global economy.
He observed that value chains expand production possibilities and enhance cross-border utilisation of the natural and human resources. He said participation allows advantageous integration in the highly competitive world of the 21st century.
According to Dr Monnane, participation can be regional or global or both – either way is to maximise national and regional economic prosperity.
“The key challenge for corporate and governance policy makers is to identify entry points in value chains,” he said. He acknowledged that financing SADC industrialisation was a challenge, adding that there were targets requirement ratios of close to 40 percent of GDP.
The SADC national media coordinator for Botswana, Russ Molosiwa, urged the media in Botswana and the region to take interest in issues of SADC industrialisation and regional integration in the region.
He added that there were a number of developments that citizens in SADC member states would be interested to know.
One of the participants at the workshop, senior reporter at Duma FM radio station, Onalenna Dube, paid tribute to the SADC secretariat for organising the media workshop. She acknowledged that the workshop offered journalists a unique opportunity to better understand the industrialisation agenda of the SADC Region.
“As one of the journalists who attended the workshop, I have heard about the SADC Industrialisation Strategy before, but this was my first time to have a better understanding of the strategy and the various programmes that SADC is undertaking in the roll out of the strategy,” she said.
SADC Industrialisation Strategy is anchored on three pillars namely; Industrialisation as a champion of economic and technological transformation; Competitiveness as an active process to move from comparative advantage to competitive advantage; and regional integration and geography as the context for industrial development and economic prosperity.
The SADC Industrialisation Action Plan was adopted by Heads of State and Government at their summit in Swaziland in March, 2017 with a call for an improved policy environment for industrial development; enhanced competitiveness through the use of selected industrial policy instruments and increased participation in value chains for regional value addition within and beyond the SADC region.
The Action Plan also seeks to increase capabilities of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to participate in industrialisation and value chains
With regard to industrialisation, major interventions proposed include an improved policy environment for industrial development, increased volume and efficiency of public and private sector investments in the SADC economy, creation of regional value chains and participation in related global processes, as well as increased value addition for agricultural and non-agricultural products and services.
In the area of an improved operating environment, there are plans to develop and operationalise a Protocol on Industry by 2020, which should lead to the development of industrialisation policies and strategies at national level.
Where member states already have such policies and strategies, these should be reviewed and aligned to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
Member states will be required to develop national Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programmes (IUMPs) by 2018 and implement these by 2020.