The implementation of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Industrial Strategy has officially begun following the approval of an action plan and regional guidelines on local content policy.
Ministers responsible for industry from the 21 member states and their representatives adopted the two instruments today during the closure of the 3rd COMESA ministerial committee on industry in Nairobi, Kenya.
This paves the way for the implementation of the COMESA industrial strategy, which aims to support the structural transformation of regional economies through sustainable and inclusive industrialisation.
In their decision, the ministers urged member states to integrate activities of the regional action plan into their national industrial development plans for implementation.
Furthermore, they urged member states to allocate budgets to implement their industrial development plans in tandem with the regional activities, and in line with the third industrial development decade for Africa (IDDAIII).
The ministers directed the COMESA secretariat to facilitate the mobilisation of financial and technical resources required for the 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-budgeted 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 the regional Industrialisation agenda.
The specific targets of the COMESA industrialization strategy (2017/26) are increasing value added products and exports as a percentage of the GDP from the current estimate of 9% to 29% by 2026, increasing the share of manufacturing to the GDP to at least 20% by 2026, and increasing intra-regional manufactured exports relative to total manufactured imports to the region from the current 7% to 20% by 2026.
Regarding the regional guidelines for local content policy, the minsters noted that that these enable the formulation of local content policies amongst member states in order to maximise local benefits from industrialisation.
They, however, agreed that the regional guidelines are not binding but was a tool to simply guide member states when formulating policies, laws, and regulations on local content.
When developing the local content framework, the ministers advised member states to consider the commitments made under bilateral and multilateral agreements, bilateral investment treaties, and the existing regional and continental free trade agreements to avoid breaching those commitments.
The minister therefore urged member states to establish mechanisms for greater collaboration in the development of sustainable value chains in order to increase intra-trade in manufactured goods.
They urged member states to use the regional guidelines to develop and review their local content policy frameworks and to learn from each other through experience sharing on local content. The ministers further directed the COMESA secretariat to facilitate member states in the formulation and implementation of local content programmes.
Secretary General of the COMESA, Chileshe Kapwepwe, thanked the ministers for approving the local content policy and the regional guidelines. She noted that they will lead to the development of a vibrant and sustainable industrial sector that will ensure equitable benefits to all the people of the COMESA member states.
The COMESA is the largest regional economic organisation in Africa, with 19 member states and a population of about 390 million.
It also has a free trade area, with 19 member states, and launched a customs union in 2009 that includes, Egypt; Ethiopia; Sudan; Kenya; Libya; Uganda; Zimbabwe; Madagascar; Burundi; Djibouti; Comoros; Congo; Eritrea; Malawi; Mauritius; Rwanda; Seychelles; Swaziland, and Zambia.