Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi made the call here yesterday when opening the 2021 SADC Industrialization Week (SIW) in the Malawian capital Lilongwe that brought on board senior government officials from SADC member states, business representatives in the regional and beyond, international cooperating partners as well as other key stakeholders.
The week is meant to foster new opportunities for intra-African trade and investment in the area.
President Nyusi called on trading bloc member states to develop local content and utilize the market of 300 million people in the region.
He noted that SADC was not doing well due to low technological development adding the vice could have filled the gap of employment in other sectors which target women and youths.
“Industrialization is possible through support to small and medium enterprises (SME’s). Strategic region industrialization is necessary in pursuit of economic development,” said the president.
The President urged SADC to integrate to implement Industrial transformation to add value on agriculture products such as cotton, tea and tobacco which were hard hit by low prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He cited two aspects of industrialization as economic policy to help the region to remerge from COVID-19 effects, the need to adjust, to introduce micro economic actions as well as adequate funding such as internal saving multilateral agreement, development partners as well as the need to fight corruption.
Malawian President and SADC chairperson Lazarus Chakwera called upon governments in the region to invest in technological research and innovation.
“Governments must increase production to value chain as industrialization is a driver and thus crucial for job creation. SADC free trade is meaningless without industrialization and if not industrialized, SADC would be a dumping place for imported goods,” warned the President.
SIW has been organized by the SADC Business Council, SADC Secretariat and Malawian government, under the theme “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of Covid 19 for Inclusive, Sustainable Economic and Industrial Transformation.”
Topics discussed during the forum were infrastructure development in the SADC and regional value chains, SME/local development, gender and youth as well as finance for infrastructure and industrialization.
Other topics were barriers to trade and trade facilitation, research, innovation and technology development as well as mining.