SADC Industrialization Week to boost Malawi trading partner’s base

By Kondwani Magombo

Lilongwe, Mana: Government has said the week-long Industrialization and Exhibition Week for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that starts Monday in Lilongwe will accord the country an opportunity to build strong trading partners base, among other things.

Minister of Industry, Roy Kachale said this Sunday during media orientation held at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe, ahead of the official opening of the event.

He said the event, which would advance the SADC Industrialization Strategy that the regions Council of Heads of State decided on in Harare in 2015, would enhance value addition for commodities in the region.

“The General expectations are that we’re going to build networks with the region and within ourselves so that we increase our trading partner’s base,” Kachale explained.

He added: “We hope to forge networks with other countries on trading of intermediary goods, for example: if sugar is our end product but in other countries it is taken as a raw material, we need to start building those capacities instead of us exporting intermediary goods and importing finished goods.”

The Minister added that, other than attaining the growth in manufacturing value added products and the trading of intermediate goods, Malawi would like to see several indicators increase, including growth in GDP.

SADC Director for Industrial Development & Trade, Dr. Khutula Sibanda said the regional body needs to appreciate the rationale behind the SADC Industrialization Strategy to enhance value addition to improve the regions manufactured goods.

He added that the Strategy is also aimed at improving the regions manufactured inputs and trading amongst the member states as indicated by SADC trading figures.

Sibanda said that, “Our trading figures are currently very low: they are around 20 percent at present which is very low as compared to other regions such as the European Union (EU) where that figure goes to up to 60 percent.

“This is so because they trade more amongst themselves than we, in SADC, trade amongst ourselves”.

He said the industrialization week would help stakeholders’ share common understanding as SADC family and he called upon the media to disseminate the proceedings to the “farthest district of Malawi and to the farthest districts of the rest of the member states.”

The Director hoped that the week-long event would motivate people in the region to work around industrialization and to support the policies which support industrialization.

“As a region, we expect that where those policies are not put in place they should be put in place and we expect that our policy makers ensure that innovative funding mechanisms are put in place to finance the various components of the strategy, in particular, those big pillars like infrastructure,” Sibanda said.

The Industrialization and Exhibition Week will run from Monday through Friday with the participation of all SADC member states.