The Southern African Development Community today joined the rest of the world in commemorating Africa Industrialisation Day at a time the industrial sector has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, SADC executive secretary, Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the COVID-19 has had far-reaching social and economic consequences exposing the deep inequalities that continue to exist in the region and across the African continent.
She said the pandemic had also exposed the deep inequalities that continue to exist in the region and across the African continent.
“It has clearly shown how far we are from realizing the developmental goals and responsibilities to the SADC citizens. On a positive note, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how the region is able to successfully work together to overcome its challenges, even during times of unprecedented crises.
“As a major driver of the planned transformation for the region, the industrial sector is one of the sectors significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Tax said SADC member states should understand and appreciate the extent of the damage that the pandemic has had on their economies and respond with appropriate measures to ensure that the disruption does not seriously negate key developments in the industrialisation drive of the region.
She also commended both the public and private sectors, including (Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises) SMMEs, for remaining vigilant and adapting their responses to the changing methods of doing business during the pandemic.
“SADC implores all players to scale up responses to COVID-19, in order to minimize the effects of the pandemic on business operations and create more employment opportunities for the people.”
Tax said it was imperative for member states to continue improving the business environment to enable the private sector recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year’s Africa Industrialisation Day should serve as a reminder for the region to unite and take collective action to accelerate industrialization and drive the regional and continental industrialisation agenda,” she said.
The SADC executive secretary commended the unity in the region to save lives and support given to the vulnerable since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the same measure of unity, the region will come out of this pandemic stronger and ready to counter the challenges that lie ahead,” she said.
This year’s commemorations are running under the theme; ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialisation in the era of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)’.
“The theme underscores the importance of policy harmonization and alignment across national borders as a pre-requisite for cross border investment and for the movement of goods, capital and people.”
She said SADC understands that industrialization, with strong linkages to domestic economies, will help member states and African countries, to enhance productivity, diversify their economies, achieve high growth rates, and thus, reduce exposure to external shocks which will substantially contribute to poverty eradication through employment and wealth creation.
“The transformation of SADC economies aims to create decent jobs, promote value adding development approaches, and improve the welfare of citizens, and ultimately eradicate poverty in the region,” Tax said.
The Africa Industrialization Day was proclaimed by the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union, in July 1989, and the UN General Assembly, on December 22, 1989.