Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Industrial Policy Workshop – Cape Town, January 2020


Industrial Policy Workshop – Cape Town, January 2020

Industrial Policy Workshop – Cape Town, January 2020

Thinking afresh about Industrialisation and Industrial Policy for Africa

tralac hosted a Workshop on 20 and 21 January 2020 to stimulate a fresh debate (and ask relevant and urgent questions) about industrial development and policy. The Workshop brought together representatives from the African Union Commission (AUC), regional and national governments and business organisations and the private sector to share their narratives on industrialisation and industrial policy. The Workshop was organised in focused sessions.

  1. Session 1 focused on industrialisation and industrial policy, with Trudi Hartzenberg, John Stuart (tralac Associate) and Dumisani Mbambo of the International Trade Administration Commission, South Africa.

  2. Session 2 (with Prof. Gerhard Erasmus, tralac Associate, and Tania Bowers of Eskom) discussed the importance of governance in industrial development and policy.

  3. Session 3 provided private sector perspectives of industrialisation and included representatives from agro-processing (Motlatisi Tolo – young woman entrepreneur in the poultry industry), clothing and textiles (Michael Lawrence from the National Clothing Retail Foundation) and chemical industries (Farida Khan from SASOL) and exporters (Terry Gale – Western Cape Exporters Club).

  4. Session 4 revealed industrial development and policy experience from the southern African region, including Zimbabwe (Daniel Ndlela), Namibia (Roberth Simon), Botswana (Reginald Selelo), Malawi (William Mwanza) and Eswatini (Nontobeko Mabuza).

  5. Session 5 provided an overview of South Africa’s industrial policy paradigm particularly the proposed master plans for the clothing and textile industry (Michael) and envisioned agricultural industry (Sfiso Ntombela).

  6. Session 6 provided regional and continental perspectives on industrialisation and industrial policy. The session included representatives from the African Union Commission (Brian Mureverwi and Rongai Chizema), Southern African Development Community (SADC) Business Council (Tulo Makwati) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Secretariat (Khutsafalo Sekolokwane).

The workshop concluded with participants proposing for the following Follow Up Issues:

  • Supranationalism matters to remain on the tables of the African Union to deal with the problems of sovereignty – the lack of supranationality means that regional institutions,for example secretariats for the regional economic communities, have limited mandates. They do not have the powers of the European Commission, for example,  to hold member states to account in cases of non-compliance with regional agreements (for example trade protocols)

  • • Sustain and fuel political discussion, increase political commitment re industrial development and policy

  • Coordination of private sector from the national, regional to continental levels

  • Member states to keep in touch with the SACU Secretariat regarding the customs official’s forum

  • Development of sector policies/plans across the economy including agriculture is important (agriculture is as much an industry as is clothing manufacture)

  • Understanding of policy processes to support industrialisation – which Ministries lead industrial policy development; how are other Ministries involved in the process. Policy coherence requires effective intra-governmental coordination. Non-state stakeholders, especially the private sector must be involved in these processes too

  • Provide opportunities for multi-stakeholder dialogue to develop creative solutions to industrial development and industrial policy implementation

  • Development of sector linkages and cooperation re industrialisation and industrial policy and linkages with other policies, for example trade, labour market policies

  • Promote awareness about industrialisation and trade through the media and building capacity of journalists. Learn from success stories and failures (what can we learn from companies that close down, or down size?)

  • Exchange of information related to industrialisation and opportunities can be provided on interactive platforms. tralac already has an interactive Business Forum on AGOA.info for trade with the United States.

  • Skills development and reskilling, education reforms are essential to meet the demands of a 21st century industrial revolution – what skills are needed, how can curricula in schools, universities and other training institutions be adapted? How can the youth (especially in schools) be encouraged to take mathematics, science, engineering and related courses, and consider careers in these areas?

  • Ensure access to regulations and policies related to industrial development – tralac has requested all participants to share policy documents, laws, regulations, which it will make available on the tralac website. All these should be in the public domain. Access to information is essential to make good economic decision, and absolutely essential for good governance

  • tralac to do more work on trade-related matters and industrialisation linkages


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