As a response to the business community interests to have more input in the Southern African regional trade and industrial policy formulation, the Southern African Business Forum (SABF) was established as a coordinating platform to encourage and facilitate public-private development activities within the SADC region against the backdrop of regional industrialisation. Launched in August 2015 on the margins of the SADC Heads of State Summit in Botswana, the SABF has since established a secretariat that resides at the NEPAD Business Foundation.
On Wednesday,24 August 2016, during the inaugural SADC Industrialisation Week, held in Swaziland, over 200 private sector representatives from across the region gathered for the Second Annual Southern Africa Business Forum (SABF) Conference. The SABF Conference was the highlight of the SADC Industrialisation Week and took place on the margins of SADC’s 36 thw Ordinary Summit of Heads of State (31 st August and 1 st September 2016) where King Mswati III is taking on the responsibility as Chairperson of SADC.
The four key points highlighted in the Declaration include:
1. Hard and soft infrastructure shortcomings must always be addressed together. Hard infrastructure is only as useful as the regulatory environment that surrounds it, and either permits or hampers its utilisation.
2. Policy certainty, including stability, predictability, consistency and transparency is a prerequisite to attract investment for regional industrialisation, regardless of sector or scale. Large companies and SMEs from all sectors demand policy certainty regarding the use of tariffs, fees and levies at borders; mining houses and agro-processors called for stable and predictable export regimes; and infrastructure developers and agro-enterprises raised the need for consistent and transparent land use rights.
3. Prioritisation and sequencing is the key to successful implementation. Prioritisation should take into account geographical links, opportunities for incremental implementation to allow for short-term gains and industry-specific requirements to support priority value chains.
4. Enabling trade through the removal of non-tariff barriers, coordinated border management and a solid and efficient regional transit system is a prerequisite for industrialisation in all sectors.