Decisive Industrialisation Policies Essential to Building Developmental States in Southern Africa

by Southern Africa Trust

21 July 2015 – Pretoria – Developmental states in southern Africa must invest in the implementation of clear regional and national policies towards industrialisation and beneficiation while also building human capacity.

“Africa has never been poor and it’s not poor,” said Obed Ligate of the University of North America. Africa has an abundance of natural resources, but this resource wealth has not translated into human development. “If you don’t have good policies it will not trickle down to common people and you will not be able to fight unemployment, poverty.”

The regional conference Building Democratic Developmental States for Economic Transformation in Southern Africa has brought together prominent scholars, outspoken members of civil society, and high level policy makers to debate strategies for building democratic developmental states in southern Africa. The grouping of experts are meeting from the 20 to 22 July 2015 at Kievits Kroon Country Estate, Pretoria, South Africa.

The influential regional gathering is hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Southern Africa Office) in collaboration with the UNDP South Africa, Southern Africa Trust and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

In the second day of the conference, experts interrogated the challenges facing the Southern African Development Community and its Regional indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) in creating developmental states. While prioritising industrialisation and beneficiation, the region faces barriers of inadequate infrastructure, access to finance and availability of skills.

In order to ensure the RISDP translates to real change, a multi-stakeholder approach is being pursued, said Gainmore Zanamwe of SADC. The regional economic body “is now engaging with private sector and civil society to see how best we can work together to implement.”

“The issue of industrialisation is critical to our continent” emphasised Henry Malumo of Action Aid. He highlighted that while there is an abundance of resource wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, issues of governance undermine their use towards development. As a result “we lose out as a region.”

The application of macro-economic policy was also debated. Adebayo Olukoshi, Director of the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, cautioned developmental states to ensure their macro-economic policies enable them to achieve their development gaols. “Macro-economic policy has been so mystified that it has become tyrannical”.

Nassirou Ba of the food security section of UNECA spoke about the importance of a regionally integrated value chain to improve agricultural productivity and food security. “It takes almost twice as long to trade across border in Africa in comparison to Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said, describing how most African countries export to US and the EU as opposed to their neighbours. “Africa needs to grant access for its own domestic food to its own markets.”

The organisers of the conference anticipate discussions will inform the policy direction of development in the southern Africa region.

The programme and background materials are available here.

For more information, contact Julie Middleton jmiddleton@southernafricatrust.org or +27 (0)78 458 2684 / +27 (0)11 034 0400.