EAC meet outlines key targets for achieving industrialization

PRESS RELEASE

BUJUMBURA, Burundi, March 23, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A meeting convened in Bujumbura, Burundi to develop an Action Plan for implementing the EAC Industrialization Policy and Strategy has identified six targets vital for achieving industrialization goals in the region in the next five years.

The meeting, which concluded Thursday, identified the following targets in the Action Plan:

a)    Diversification and value addition;

b)    Strengthening institutions for policy design, management and implementation;

c)    Strengthening research and development (R&D), technology and innovation capabilities and sustainable industrial development;

d)    Expansion of intra and extra-regional trade in manufactured products;

e)    Transformation of small and medium enterprises; and

f)    Equitable industrial development and gender dimension.

The Action Plan highlights the roadmap for implementing the first phase of the Policy and Strategy between 2012 and 2017. Implementation of the interventions in the Action Plan will in the short term address a number of challenges that have constrained industrialization within the region.

The EAC industrialization Strategy identifies six strategic regional industries in which the region has potential comparative advantage including: Iron-ore and other mineral processing; Fertilizers and agrochemicals; Pharmaceuticals; Petro-chemicals and gas processing; Agro-processing; and Energy and Bio-fuels.

The experts meeting recognized industrialization has a major impact on climate change and in this connection; the Action Plan ought to incorporate interventions to address and/or mitigate climate change including promoting renewable energy solutions, energy efficiency programmes in industries; resource efficiency and cleaner production among others.

In addition, it was noted that the Action Plan should highlight complementary factors which impact on industrialization such as infrastructure (railway, roads, ICT, ports, energy etc); business environment, high labour costs, underdeveloped agriculture; and incorporate mechanisms to facilitate tracking the progress of implementation of complementary factors.

The meeting noted the need for the establishment of a regional credit guarantee scheme to enhance credit access to Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SMEs). This was in response to the observation that establishment of credit guarantee schemes are being explored in most Partner States, raising the need for sharing best practices in this area.

A Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) incubation programme was proposed geared towards nurturing new and innovative ideas in the Partner States. In addition, the experts proposed formulation of an award and incentive programme for the promotion of the Strategic Regional Industries be encourage and attract more investments into regional industries.

It was also noted that collaboration in research and development (R&D) through the triple helix mechanism incorporating government, private sector and academia/R&D institutions should be explored as an innovative way to encourage collaborative R&D in the region.

To enhance regional industrial development, it was proposed that an institutional framework should be established to ensure effective linkages among the various actors as well as smooth and coherent implementation of the policy and strategy. In addition there is need to formulate an award and incentive programme for the promotion of the Strategic Regional Industries. Such a facility will encourage and attract more investments into the targeted strategic regional industries.

The experts discussed various mechanisms for raising funds to support implementation of the Action Plan and identified several possible sources of financing industrialization programmes including Partner States increased contribution to industrial development activities; Development Partner support; and round table forums.

Also proposed are: integration of regional activities in national budget planning processes; public private partnerships, regional industrial development funding (RIDF) mechanisms; as well as existing funding arrangements such as the climate change adaptation fund and green funds among others.

Experts from Ministries responsible for industrialization and planning in the EAC Partner States; private sector and manufacturing associations in the region as well as industry support institutions (including but not limited to technology, technical training, standards, research, investment and export promotion institutions) and regional and national development institutions attended the meeting, which was convened with the support of GIZ.

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SOURCE 

East African Community (EAC)

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