Eca Sro-SA Centre of Excellence On Inclusive Industrialization Meets It's 2020 Targets Despite Covid-19 Pandemic Setback

23 July 2020

Lusaka — The ECA Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) presented significant achievements by the Office during a three-day 2020 second quarter Accountability and Programme Performance Review (APPR) meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) held virtually from 21st to 23rd July 2020.

Presenting the office programme performance review, Oliver Maponga, ECA Economic Affairs Officer indicated that, "despite the COVID-19 crisis our core objective remains to contribute achieving structural transformation through inclusive industrialisation for reducing poverty and inequality. Furthermore, SRO-SA is providing leadership, promoting best practices, undertaking policy research and providing technical support to member States and Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) including providing impact analysis reports on the eleven countries the office serves" he noted.

SRO-SA however acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic had created challenges which necessitated the adoption of innovative ways to continue supporting member States such as the convening of a knowledge sharing e-seminar held on 30th June 2020 on the theme, "responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and its challenges: the role of National Planning Entities (NPEs)." This meeting enabled member States in Southern Africa to share best practices in fighting the pandemic under the umbrella of the NPEs.

The presenter continued to outline other progress made during the second quarter, pointing out that the Office activities were being implemented under two sections the Inclusive Industrialization which contributed to accelerating industrialization in Southern Africa and the Sub-Regional Initiative, which supported capacity strengthening of member States, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and other Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) to implement sub-regional development priorities.

SRO-SA rolled out the implementation of United Nations Development Account (UNDA) 12th Tranche Project: "Promotion and implementation of regional and national industrialization policies for inclusive and sustainable development in Southern Africa." This commenced with a virtual partners' meeting on 17th June 2020. The event brought together collaborating partners including: the African Union Southern Africa Regional Office (AU-SARO), COMESA, SADC, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Resident Coordinators Offices in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Other activities under the Inclusive industrialisation section include, a multi-year collaborative program with COMESA, financing framework for Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Eswatini and Support to the United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) in Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe by formulating resource mobilization proposals under the joint-Sustainable Development Fund (SDG).

Under the Sub-Regional Initiatives, significant progress had been made with SADC in developing two policy blueprints: The SADC Vision 2050 and the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP (2020-2030). In Namibia progress was made towards development of an Integrated Performance Management Framework expected to be validated in 2020. Other activities included support to member States in formulating national African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) strategies and implementation plans in Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Some of the challenges faced in implementing these activities included: limited national statistical capacity which affected timely availability of reliable data needed for analytical studies; dwindling and unpredictable disbursement financial resources that derailed program delivery and in responding to requests and as already alluded to COVID-19 pandemic which had affected timely implementation of planned initiatives especially those related to the convening function.

The Office report emphasized that despite the COVID-19 challenges the Office would continue to undertake the core mandate of supporting member States, RECs and IGOs to promote and develop inclusive industrialization policy and institutional frameworks in achieving economic development; collaborating with RECs in promoting sub regional development agenda and priorities; convening expert and policy meetings; and providing advisory services in enhancing their capacity to design and implement priority sub regional initiatives in Southern Africa.

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