Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Joseph Mwanamvekha made the observation Monday in a statement as the country joined the rest of Africa in commemorating the Africa Industrialization Day. The day was being commemorated under the theme “Financing in the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa: Challenges and Winning Strategies.” Mwanamveka said while the country had signed a number of bilateral, multilateral and regional agreements such as SADC and COMESA to widen the market for the country’s goods and services, returns from such agreements were unsatisfactory. “Exports from the African region are dominated by unprocessed or semi processed agricultural produce and mineral products hence proving low value returns. “Such low level of intra-regional trade clearly shows that great emphasis on tariff elimination has not brought about intended socio economic development nor enhancement of life and wellbeing of the people,” he said in the statement.
He, however, said the COMESA Industrialization Strategy (2015-2025) and the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) aim at reversing the trend in order to achieve self-sustaining development for the region. Mwanamveka added, “This will be achieved through value addition to our products which in turn would increase returns from the export of the natural resources.” The Minister called on the region take into account innovative ways of financing industrialization saying inadequate capital investment was one of the challenges that has retarded the implementation of the existing programs on industrialization. “This includes urgently formalizing and operationalizing regional development fund, promoting public- private partnerships and ensuring that private sector plays a pivotal role in the implementation of the industrialization programs,” he said.
The Africa Industrialization Day was set up in 1989 by the United Nations to commemorate achievements that African countries and the international community have made towards industrialization of the continent. It is also a day when African countries sensitize the general public on the challenges experienced and the role industrialization plays in attaining sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.