Implementation of Comesa industrial strategy has officially started following approval of a regional action plan and guidelines on local content policy by 21 member states.
Ministers responsible for industry from the member states and their representatives adopted the two instruments during the closure of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa 3rd Ministerial meeting on Industry in Nairobi yesterday.
The development paves the way for implementation of Comesa Industrial Strategy, aimed at supporting restructuring of regional economies through sustainable and inclusive industrialisation.
In their decision, the ministers urged member states to integrate activities of the regional action plan in their National Industrial Development Plans for effective implementation.
Further, they urged member states to allocate funds to implement their industrial development plans in synergy with the regional activities, and in line with the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDAIII).
The two-day meeting was chaired by the Minister of Trade and Industry of Madagascar Lantosoa Rakotomalala, who is also the chair of the Comesa Council of Ministers.
In their final statement, the ministers directed the Comesa Secretariat to facilitate mobilisation of financial and technical resources required for implementation of the regional action plan.
The Comesa Industrial Strategy was adopted by Ministers of Industry in September 2017 who also directed the Secretariat to develop a well-costed action plan with timelines and responsibilities.
At the same meeting, the ministers directed the Secretariat to come up with regional policy guidelines on local content as one way of supporting the regional industrialisation agenda.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Industrialisation and Co-operatives Peter Munya underscored the need for the region to develop and inculcate a preferential taste for its own goods and services.
“We cannot talk about industrialisation and infrastructure development without addressing local content policies and regulations,” he told the ministers.
Munya said these policies and regulations were appropriate economic instruments which could be employed to advance regional development by harnessing locally available resources.
The specific targets of the Comesa Industrialization Strategy (2017-2026) include among others, increasing value-added products and exports as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) from the current estimate of nine per cent to 29 per cent by 2026.
It also seeks to increase the share of manufacturing to GDP to at least 20 per cent by 2026 and increase intra-regional manufactured exports relative to total manufactured imports to the region from the current seven to 20 per cent by 2026.