Makhura said the conference was a direct response to the African Union Agenda 2063, which calls upon all Africans to work hard to do away with the apparent disconnect between the presence of vast mineral resources, including agricultural imports, in African countries and the building of a vibrant manufacturing sector.
“We must also forge ahead with the agenda of integrating our economies and markets to build a strong regional industrial and manufacturing base that will serve to catalyse regional integration. We have no doubt that this Conference will go a long way in ensuring that we achieve these objectives,” said Makhura.
He said the work being done by African governments to promote and expand intra-Africa trade under the leadership of the African Union is necessary to grow their economies in a more sustainable and inclusive way.
The Premier was referring to the work done by the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Agency on implementing Agenda 2063 and, in the immediate, the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement between the Heads of State of 26 African countries to establish a free-trade area aimed at bringing together three of Africa’s major regional economic communities – the Southern Africa Development Community, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
“We urge African businesspeople and entrepreneurs to take advantage of these initiatives and ensure that entrepreneurs and SMMEs (small, micro and medium enterprises) have access to economic opportunities beyond borders. This includes integrating the informal sector and what we call the township economies into the mainstream of our national and regional economies,” said Makhura.
In addition, he emphasised the role of African cities and regional or provincial governments in Africa’s industrialisation efforts. He said the sub-national governments need to play a more serious role in giving economic leadership at local and regional levels. Cities and regions are becoming key drivers of the global economy. Africa’s rapid urbanisation and the expo tidal growth of urban youthful populations must be harnessed as a trigger for industrialisation, innovation, inclusive growth and shared prosperity. He reiterated that Africa’s inclusive growth path required the proactive participation of local and provincial governments that are well governed. Makhura said Gauteng was commitment to working with the government of Namibia in strengthening regional and continental industrialisation and reindustrialisation efforts.
In this regard, Makhura announced that Gauteng province and Erongo region will be signing a memorandum of understanding early next year, as part of efforts to strengthen sub-national collaboration between cities and regions. President Hage Geingob earlier met Premier Makhura in October while he was in South Africa to promote the Invest in Namibia International Conference held at Emperors Palace.