The SADC Secretariat is developing a legal instrument that will improve the policy environment for industrial development and support implementation.
The development of a regional industry protocol should strengthen the economies of countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and ensure that they are driven by industrial development and not based on exports of raw resources.
SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said a draft of the protocol was in place following consultations with member states.
"I am glad to report that during the year, drafts of the SADC Regional Mining Vision, and Protocol on Industry were prepared and consultations were held with relevant stakeholders," Dr Tax said at the SADC Council held in late March in Pretoria, South Africa.
She said the proposed protocol would provide for a supportive policy environment for the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap across sectors.
The final draft protocol is expected to be ready by the end of 2018.
According to the costed action plan of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), the protocol is expected to be have been adopted by the end of 2020.
Once completed, the protocol will provide the legal mandate for the SADC Secretariat to coordinate the implementation of regional industrial activities, programmes and projects, including the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap and its related Costed Action Plan.
The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap aims to accelerate the momentum towards strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of economies of southern African countries.
The proposed protocol is expected to strengthen the level of industrial development in the region and facilitate the harmonisation of policies and strategies in member states.
Where member states already have such policies and strategies, these should be reviewed and aligned to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
A report presented during the SADC Council of Ministers revealed that the Secretariat has obtained resources to update the SADC Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programme (IUMP).
According to the report, SADC member states are expected to have developed national IUMPs by the end of 2018 and to have implemented these by December 2020.
The SADC IUMP was adopted by the SADC Committee of Ministers of Trade in 2009 to implement the component of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) that dealt with industrialisation.
The RISDP was subsequently revised in 2015 by front-loading industrialisation ahead of trade.
National industrial upgrading programmes should be in line with the SADC IUMP, which provides the basis for a sector-specific approach to industrialisation in the region, focusing on upgrading existing manufacturing capacities, modernising productive facilities, reinforcing the institutional support infrastructure, and strengthening regional capacity for research and innovation.
To encourage the creation of regional value chains and participation in global processes, the region has identified five priority areas where the value chains can be established and for which regional strategies should be developed by 2020.
These are in the areas of agro-processing, minerals beneficiation, consumer goods, capital goods, and services. Detailed value chain studies are proposed for specific products or services in the priority areas.
As part of the process of promoting value chain participation, there are plans to develop model legislation and regulations for intra-SADC agro-processing, minerals beneficiation and other manufacturing activities and services.