Regional Integration: Southern Africa Business Forum (SABF)

The African market covers 1.2 billion people and has a total GDP of over USD$3.5 trillion. This large market has the potential to create jobs for a growing population and support more local trade in goods, services and assets. NBF’s current focus on regional integration in SADC is being implemented through the Southern Africa Business Forum (SABF) which, under a signed MoU between the SADC Secretariat and the NBF, is an official partner in the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy.

The SABF represents the voice of private sector in SADC and aims to encourage business to support the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy. The SABF achieved some key milestones  in 2017 : 

The SADC Secretariat partnered with the SABF Pharmaceutical Working Group in the launch of the SADC Pharmaceutical Business Plan. This is a major achievement and brought together public, private and donor sectors in understanding the work needed to implement the Business Plan.SABF has become a key industry representative in the regional pharmaceutical policy space, being asked to participate in policy processes and activities. SABF participated in the AU Trade Facilitation Experts Meeting in held in Mauritius in September 2017 and the Regional Industry Zazibona Workshop in Namibia held in November 2017.

The SABF Pharmaceutical working group has developed the Pharmaceutical Value Chain Matrix which outlines the various policy and implementation barriers experienced by the private sector companies when doing business in the region.  This matrix has been well received by the SADC Secretariat, the pharmaceutical industry and the international cooperation partners (ICP) and development finance community (particularly GIZ and World Bank). There is a strong interest to adopt this approach for other industry sectors.

SABF discussions and meetings between industry, academia and the ICP community are facilitating a more collaborative approach around skills development and training.

SADC Industrialisation Week 2017

Africa’s industrialisation is a primary focus for most African governments to add value to raw materials and establish centres for manufacturing and processing to grow their economies.  SADC’s Industrialisation Strategy and Action Plan was approved by SADC Heads of State in 2016 and the focus is on the implementation of the action plan.  This requires private sector to take the lead and own the implementation process.   Private sector engagement from across 16 SADC countries is coordinated through the Southern African Business Forum (SABF) which was established in 2015 and has made steady progress in mobilising engagement of the private sector and SADC secretariat and its member states.

In August 2017, the SADC Secretariat and the SABF hosted the second annual SADC Industrialization Week alongside the third SABF Conference at the Focus Rooms in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The theme for this year’s SADC Industrialization Week was ‘Partnering with the private sector in developing regional value chains’ and the event brought together over 500 representatives from government, business, civil society and academia in order to form strategic partnerships that will facilitate the implementation of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2030.

The week’s programme included a ‘visioning exercise’ which considered what an industrialised SADC region would look like in 2030 and what technologies and skills would be required to gear up manufacturing and production facilities of the future.  This was followed by sector specific workshops on ‘Financing Infrastructure investments’, the launch of the SADC Pharmaceutical business plan, an SMME ‘Made in Africa Day’ and site visits hosted by the dti to some of South Africa’s most successful production sites.

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