Monday, May 24, 2021: The COMESA Technical Committee on Industry conducted its 4th meeting from 24 – 25 May 2021 with the key agenda being the adoption of the draft harmonized COMESA Framework of Managing Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks. The report was tabled before the committee of ministers on 27 May 2021 for approval and implementation.
The decision to develop an implementation strategy of the COMESA Local Content Policy Framework was issued by the Ministers in their 3rd meeting conducted in Kenya in 2019. Its objective is to ensure that a high proportion of project inputs are sourced from the host country without compromising the economics of the project or sector being leveraged.
Speaking when he opened the meeting, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, of Zimbabwe, Dr Mavis Sibanda said in doing so, there will be economic multiplier effect that results in greater value extraction by host countries.
“The Implementation Strategy of the Local Content Framework must outline successful, local content initiatives based on a well-conceived strategy as well as legal and institutional considerations that recognize the need for joint contributions from host governments, national entrepreneurs, and foreign investors,” Dr Sibanda said.
Hence, the local content framework is intended to optimize the economic value to be derived from the development of natural resources through domestic linkages while giving regard to the country’s development goals, vision for a given sector, trade competitiveness and the financial viability of the natural resource being leveraged.
The development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) or industrial parks was identified as one of the key industrialization enablers for successful industrialization. This is primarily motivated by the necessity to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) based on experiences from countries, which demonstrate that with proper management and incentives, these zones and parks can be an important tool for industrialization.
Assistant Secretary General of COMESA, Dr Kipyego Cheluget who addressed the meeting said the draft strategy and the Framework of managing SEZs was designed to be in tandem with other regional, continental and international development frameworks.
Further, the Framework is part of the thrust to foster local value addition through utilization of local resources and localization of supply chains. It is also a tool to promote local linkages between the agricultural, extractive, industrial and service sectors.
During the two-day meeting, the technical committee also discussed the draft guidelines on inclusive and sustainable industrial production during and after the COVID 19 pandemic. They also took stock of what has been achieved in implementing Council Decisions on Industry since its last meeting in 2019. Zimbabwe hosted the virtual meeting.
The technical committee is comprised of Permanent/Principal Secretaries, directors and other senior staff in ministries in charge of industry.