The first ever Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Investment Roundtable event was successfully hosted by Botswana under the theme: “Positioning SACU as an industrial, investment, manufacturing and innovation hub for the African continent and beyond”. The investment seminar was held on 12 and13 April 2022 in Gaborone, Botswana and aims to achieve accelerated industrialisation and pave way for economic recovery among SACU member states.
The objective of the gathering was to showcase investment opportunities in selected priority sectors across the SACU region, targeting: textiles and clothing, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and essential oils as well as agro-processing, specifically leather and leather products, meat and meat products, and fruits and vegetables. These sectors offer extensive opportunities for the development of regional value chains across the SACU region.
Furthermore, last week’s event served as a platform for intensifying engagement and development of partnerships among policymakers, the private sector, academia, researchers and other key stakeholders to promote the SACU Investment Strategy at national and regional levels.
In her opening statement at the gathering, Namibia’s trade and industrialisation minister Lucia Iipumbu indicated that Namibia participated fully at the event, through investment projects showcased at the roundtable. Such sectors predominantly included beef, horticulture and agro-processing. She added that there are also numerous opportunities for both public and private sector driven projects that support investments in these sectors.
Furthermore, Iipumbu stated the roundtable platform served as a catalyst for Namibia to reflect on policy innovations around industrialisation and investment. During a futuristic forecast, Iipumbu emphasised the need to guard the natural active ingredients sector against under exploitation. Most importantly, she said, is the need to deliberate on an industrial policy perspective on how to harness the SACU rebates and draw linked value chains.
Conclusively, Iipumbu orated the need for SACU to ensure opportunities emanating from trade and investment integrated into global value chains are maximised. In her closing remarks, she stated that the work was initiated by focusing on priority sectors such as meat, leather, horticulture and pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to ensure a practical outcome toward a regional industrial policy.
“As we start looking into ensuring operationalising this week’s outcome further, allow me to reiterate that Namibia stands ready with key public sector projects such as the Kavango Cattle Ranch, the Ondangwa Northern Tannery, the Beef Cold Storage Facility at Walvis Bay and the Naute Grapes and Dates project to help actualise regional and bilateral value chains. We should therefore provide a special window that actually looks to support state-owned or state-driven projects comprehensively,” Iipumbu stated.