150 firms set for Sadc Industrialisation Week Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu (centre) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Dean of Ambassadors and Angolan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Agostinho Tavares (second from left) pose for a photo during the SADC Industrialisation Week update meeting with regional ambassadors and executive members in Harare on Wednesday. — Picture: Edward Zvemisha.

Michael TomeBusiness Reporter

GOVERNMENT expects about 300 guests and 150 companies to participate in deliberations during the SADC Industrialisation Week (SIW), which will take place ahead of the SADC Summit to be held in August this year.

Scheduled to run from July 28 to August 2, 2024, under the theme “Promoting Innovation to Unlock Opportunities for Sustainable Economic Growth and Development Towards an Industrialisation” Sadc, the SIW events will include conferencing and exhibitions.

Several private sector players are expected to be part of the programme.

SIW is an annual public-private engagement platform designed to foster new opportunities for intra-African trade, develop cross-border value chains, and identify investment opportunities in the SADC region.

It will precede the senior officials, Council of Ministers Meetings, and Sadc Summit, which will take place from August 9-18 2024, at the New Parliament Building in Mt Hampden.

One of the convention’s key objectives is to promote the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2025-2063) (SISR) to ensure a wider understanding and acceptability among the SADC community members, including Governments, the members of the public, and private sector, academia, research institutions and think tanks.

It also aims to identify industrialisation projects that can be jointly implemented by the public and private sectors within the SADC member states.

The update meeting to inform key stakeholders on progress towards the week-long events was held in Harare.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, in collaboration with the SADC Secretariat, SADC Business Council, and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) hosted the meeting.

SIW, which aims to structurally transform the SADC region through industrialisation, was conceived at the 2015 SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.

The event has been held six times, starting in 2016 in Eswatini, South Africa (2017), Namibia (2018), Tanzania (2019), Malawi (2021) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2022) while Zimbabwe will host this year’s edition.

Addressing regional Ambassadors at the SIW awareness luncheon in Harare, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Permanent Secretary, Dr Thomas Utete-Ushe said the convention would target participation by the private sector players particularly those involved in the agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, pharmaceutical, financial, consumer, capital goods and infrastructure sectors.

“The SADC Industrialisation Week is targeting 300 participants, mainly the private sector, as well as other stakeholders from the public sector, academia, and development partners. For the exhibition, the target is 150 companies.”

Out of these, a total of 100 stands will be reserved for local companies, innovation hubs, SMEs, women, and youth exhibitors whilst 45 will be reserved for the other 15 Member States, with each member state allocated at least three booths.

“SIW aims to build coalitions to ensure understanding and cooperation among stakeholders on how to implement the Industrialisation Strategy, including the development of Regional Value Chains mainly the pharmaceuticals, mineral beneficiation, and agro-processing.

“There will be a dedicated pavilion for Regional Investment Promotion Agencies from the 15 SADC member countries,” said Dr Utete-Wushe.

A portal has already been developed for participants to register online.

The SIW, which will officially be opened by President Mnangagwa on July 31, 2024, will commence with a media awareness day on July 28, 2024, followed by an investment conference to be presided over by Vice President Constantine Chiwenga, on 29 July 2024.

Plenary sessions will be held on July 30.

The Minister of Industry and Commerce and the private sector will host a welcome cocktail, gala dinner, and fashion show on August 1, 2024.

The events will wrap up with organised factory visits to outstanding and innovative local companies, to showcase Zimbabwe’s industrial potential. Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Mr Christopher Mugaga said he was positive that the event would be a success, adding that more needed to be done to grow Southern Africa’s gross domestic product given the poor performance compared to other regions on the continent.

“Representing the private sector through the ZNCC we do not doubt that the SIW is going to be a success, we will work flat out to make sure that the event succeeds, but that can only happen if we think big, better, broader, and together.

“If we look into SADC GDP growth compared to other regions, we have a lot to do, East Africa GDP is projected to grow 5,1 percent in 2024 while Central Africa is estimated to grow by 3,5 percent in 2024, but Southern Africa GDP growth trend is projected to close at 2,2 percent in 2024,” said Mr                                                                                  Mugaga.

Traditionally, SIW is organised by the SADC Summit host Government, through the ministry responsible for Industry, the SADC Business Council, and the SADC Secretariat.

According to the Africa Development Bank, Southern Africa’s GDP is projected to grow from an estimated 1, 6 percent in 2023 to 2,2 percent in 2024, with a slight improvement to 2,6 percent in 2025.

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