The current energy deficit is 2,000 megawatts, according to SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax.
“The power deficit disadvantages our products in comparison to products produced elsewhere and imported into SADC. High energy cost emanating from the deficit increases the cost of production of SADC goods,” said Dr Tax when speaking at the opening of the 4th SADC Industrialization Week in Dar es Salaam.
The theme for the 2019 4th SADC Industrialization Week is ‘Competitive Business Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development.’
She stated that efforts by Tanzania to produce electricity through the 2,115MW Rufiji hydropower project at the Stiegler’s Gorge shall vastly increase the supply of affordable energy. The project once completed will result into lower costs of electricity production and contribute to industrialization in Tanzania and the SADC region, she elaborated.
SADC member states will access excess energy produced at the Rufiji hydropower station through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) interconnector.
Dr Tax asserted that to realize the goals of the Industrialization Strategy and take the SADC region to higher transformational growth, member states need to significantly increase industrial capacity by promoting manufacturing through targeted initiatives and putting in place a conducive and enabling environment, in terms of hard and soft infrastructures.
“We have to look back and see how much ground we have covered since 2014, and what needs to be done to move forward. The region can no longer afford to remain behind. We need to seize the opportunity at this crucial moment, to step up and take proactive steps in joining the global community,” she urged.
Since the region embarked on industrialization, steady progress has been recorded including profiling of value chains in pharmaceuticals, mineral beneficiation and agro-processing. The protocol on industry and a Mining Vision have been developed to contribute to optimum and sustainable utilization of mineral resources across the region, the secretariat chief noted.
The private sector is a critical partner in the SADC industrialization agenda hence the need for the formalization of the SADC Business Council, she said.
“SADC recognizes the role of the private sector, values its contribution. This is evidenced in the ongoing partnership and structures that have been put in place for this purpose, including the Industrial Development Forum and the SADC Business Council,” she further noted.
SADC member states are likely to expand markets for goods and services through the signing and operationalization of the new African Continental Free Trade Area, she stated.
The pact had been delayed by the slow pace in the finalization of exchange of offers and the ratification of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement, the SADC top official recounted.
She urged member states to finalize tariff negotiations and ratification processes for the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement, a catalyst for the Continental Free Trade Area. She also called upon the private sector to join hands with governments in advocating for operationalisation of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Free Trade Area.
“Let us utilize trade opportunities created by the SADC Free Trade Area with an integrated market of the 16 countries and a combined population of 327 million and a GDP of about $ 599 billion,” Dr Tax appealed.
Earlier, the chairman of Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), Salum Shamte expressed concern that basic services such as railways, roads, water, electricity and internet are seven times more expensive for African businesses compared to Asian counterparts.
It is high time that private and public sectors work together to address the bottlenecks that hold back African businesses, he said, emphasizing that the region has to work as one and remove all cross border trade barriers and increase intra-Africa investments and trade.
“We should focus on collaboration rather than wasteful competition,” he said.
SADC should strive to produce enough food for its people since the countries spend more than $30 million annually to import food while the SADC region covers 60 percent of all arable land in the world.
“There are no reasons for African countries to import rice from Asia while the continent has all the potential to grow more rice,” he said.
Highlighting current reforms to create a conducive business and investment climate, he said the government has jointly with the private sector developed a Blueprint for regulatory reforms and that its implementation has already began.
“Once fully implemented, the Blueprint will change completely the way Tanzania facilitates entrepreneurs to do business. We invite our brothers and sisters from SADC to invest in the country in a collaboratively win-win approach,” he said in testimony.
Shamte said that Tanzania is massively investing to improve roads, railways, air transport as well as energy production to support its industrialization drive.
Tanzania is among the top five fastest growing economies in Africa, growing at around 7 percent per annum for the last decade. The country offers massive business and investment opportunities in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, tourism, transport, logistics, manufacturing, mining and construction, the private sector leader underlined.