Industrialisation and Trade Take Centre Stage at Impactful Southern African Industrialisation Forum

The SADC Business Council (SADC BC), hosted by the NEPAD Business Foundation, charted an ambitious path towards industrialisation, trade integration and economic prosperity when hosting the high-impact Southern African Industrialisation Forum on February 26-27 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Angolan-focused forum united key government leaders, industry experts, development partners, and business representatives in strategic dialogue around catalysing sustainable industrial growth across Southern Africa. Powerful opening remarks set the tone, aligning efforts with SADC’s Regional Industrialisation and Development Agenda.

Ms Angele Makombo N’Tumba, SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, highlighted the forum’s alignment with the SADC Vision 2050 and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030. Mr Vicente Soares, SADC BC Chairperson, emphasised the private sector’s pivotal role, while Mr Ousmane Fall from the African Development Bank (AfDB) reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to scaling up support.

Insightful panel discussions identified six critical focus areas:
• Leveraging the AfCFTA: The African Continental Free Trade Area offers a gateway to enhance intra-Africa trade, production linkages, and competitive advantages, driving industrialisation.
• Enhancing Connectivity: Investments in strategic regional infrastructure by the AfDB, Afreximbank and others are crucial for facilitating trade, industrial development, and economic integration.
• Improving Financial Access: Increasing lending for SMEs through local institutions, targeted credit facilities, and business advisory support can address financing gaps.
• Upskilling Human Capital: Skills development programmes for technical training, youth employment and SME incubation are vital for an industrialised workforce.
• Policy Harmonisation: Public-private collaboration is key to driving reforms that enable cross-border business, integration, and an attractive investment climate.
• Adopting Technology: Digital trade facilitation platforms, payment systems and technology uptake can enhance efficiency and regional competitiveness.

“Events like these foster crucial multi-stakeholder partnerships to catalyse Africa’s economic transformation through bold, concerted actions,” remarked Yavi Madurai, Co-Founder of the African Prosperity Fund.

With nearly 200 delegates, the hybrid forum fostered enhanced public-private cooperation aligned with the region’s development vision. The first iteration of this pertinent event was supported by esteemed sponsors, namely, the African Development Bank Group, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), BADEA – Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, Banco SOL, Nestlé, The Coca-Cola Company, and the Graça Machel Trust.
The forum showcased SADC’s collective resolve to establish Southern Africa as an industrialised, integrated economic powerhouse.

“This forum has propelled strategic dialogue and forged partnerships to unlock our region’s immense industrialisation potential through collaborative action,” concluded Peter Varndell, SADC BC’s Executive Secretary.

As the forum concluded, regional media highlighted its impact, with coverage by The Mauritius Chamber of Commerce, Angola Press Agency, SADC Secretariat, and others amplifying its key outcomes.
The SADC Business Council reaffirms its role as a catalyst for public-private dialogue, policy advocacy and strategic initiatives to realise a prosperous, industrialised future for Southern Africa.

About the Southern African Industrialisation Forum (SAIF)

The Southern African Industrialisation Forum (SAIF) is a flagship event of the SADC Business Council. It brings together key stakeholders – government leaders, policymakers, industry executives, investors, and development partners – to shape regional investment priorities and industrialisation strategies. With a focus on specific countries and high-potential sectors, SAIF aims to facilitate collaborations, unlock investment opportunities, and drive sustainable development within the SADC region.

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