The Mandela School brings together policymakers and industry experts

08 Mar 2021
08 Mar 2021

*** An update - please follow this link to access edited videos, summary reports, and policy briefs compiled from the AfCFTA and Transformative Industrialisation webinar series.

The University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance hosted a webinar series under the theme - The AfCFTA and Transformative Industrialisation.  The webinar series preceded the much-anticipated official launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and initiated the conversation on how the AfCFTA can advance transformative industrialisation in Africa. 

The webinars brought together students, community members, policymakers, industry experts, thought leaders, activists, and the academic community. The Mandela School partners: Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM), the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED, University of Johannesburg), Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS, University of Pretoria), the Centre for Comparative Law in Africa (CCLA, University of Cape Town), Africa International Trade and Commerce Research (AITC), the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies (TWIMS) played a significant role throughout the series.

Each webinar focused on a specific sector, exploring the potential to grow competitiveness by building regional production networks at a regional and sub-regional level. The first webinar’s focus was on Pharmaceuticals, Health Care Value Chains, and Health Resilience, followed by a webinar on Building the Textiles and Clothing Value Chains. The third webinar covered Agriculture -Food Processing Value Chains (including retail) and Food SecurityH.E Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, delivered the keynote address ahead of the fourth and final webinar focusing on policy implications and recommendations for the AfCFTA.

Key Policy Insights

Pharmaceuticals, Health Care Value Chains, and Health Resilience |
Need to promote local production and enhance the competitiveness of local manufacturers. Governments need to consider policy frameworks that supports locally produced medicines for public procurement and re-examining tariffs.

Building the Textiles and Clothing Value Chains | Trade union representatives at the webinar stressed the importance of incorporating labour provisions in the AfCFTA protocols to ensure a high level and harmonised labour standards across the African continent.

Agriculture -Food Processing Value Chains (including retail) and Food Security | Build a competitive regional value chain and robust linkages between the food manufacturing industry and the rural world.

Policy Implications and Recommendations

A diverse range of speakers from the private and public sector, labour and academia participated in this webinar series and provided insights that have contributed to the formation of policy briefs. These policy briefs examine the prospects for the development of the three priority value chains and the interventions required to build competitive and transformative Regional Value Chain. The main policy recommendations are outlined below.

Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Regional Value Chain
• Prioritising the pharmaceutical industry in the AfCFTA agreement and implementation by avoiding the inclusion of pharmaceutical and medical products on the exclusion lists or sensitive items of AU Member States’ tariff schedules, prioritising pharmaceutical products in the finalisation of rules of origin and, in the AfCFTA standards harmonisation process and liberalisation of pharmaceutical and medical professional services personnel.
• Making the AfCFTA TRIPS-compatible and encouraging and supporting AU Member States to pass domestic TRIPS-compatible patent legislation.
• Developing domestic industrial policy measures including supply-side policy instruments on business and labour regulations and provision of appropriate incentives to local pharmaceutical manufacturing firms at the national level.
• Sector specific financial support from development finance institutions such as AFREXIMBANK and the African Development Bank.
• Receiving support from African institutions such as the AUC, the AfCFTA Secretariat and UNECA in coordinating and guiding appropriate specialisation strategies based on comparative advantage.
• Formation of national and regional platforms for policy discussions and active engagement with the private sector

Cotton, Textiles, and Clothing Regional Value Chain
• Building capabilities and competitiveness through world-class manufacturing programmes, supporting modernisation across the value chain, skills development in cotton farming, textile production and apparel manufacturing and product diversification and greater value addition in the textile and apparel sector.
• Creating linkages across the value chain through intra-regional trade programs and regional information hubs which provide market information on global and regional buyers to help exporting firms link into global and RVCs more effectively.
• Facilitating access to finance and integrated access to financial services that combine financial access with business advisory and management services.
• Creation of inclusive value chains which upskill women, youth, and persons with disabilities.
• Address infrastructure deficits and developing SEZs policy centred on adopting a cluster-based development approach.
• Targeted national and regional Government procurement and the promotion of buy local campaigns.
• Addressing outstanding technical issues

 Agriculture and Food Processing Regional Value Chain
• Policy coherency and consistency regarding interventions aimed at supporting small farmers.
• Effective engagement between the private and public sector and smallholder farmers aimed at supporting smaller holder farmers transition into mechanised farming.
• The implementation of zero percent duty on agricultural machinery and equipment.
• Governments should create fiscal incentives to encourage domestic investment and import substitution.
• Removal of restrictions on maximum equity ownership investments by foreign investors to ensure free capital transfer.
• Building robust linkages between the food manufacturing industry and the rural world.
• Capacity building and knowledge generation for customs officials
• The adoption of digital and biological technologies. 

Highlights from the webinar series

Dr Arkebe Oqubay, Honourable Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia - emphasised the need for a sector-specific approach for industrial practice. For pharmaceuticals, he noted that the sensitivity of the sector and high setup cost – due to high capital intensity- means there is the need for enormous government support. For Ethiopia, he outlined the key policy thrust and strategies of the government to include focus on large manufacturers with export orientation as a source of productive investment, building the pharmaceutical industrial ecosystem through an industrial park, promotion human resource development, reviewing procurement policy to support the pharmaceuticals industry, and linking the pharma industry with export logistics to enhance trade.

Barnabas Jatau, Head of Cotton, Textile and Garment Sector (apparel and fashion), Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment of Nigeria, said opportunities exist for Africa to produce what it wears and wear what it produces. The market exists in Africa for the consumption of locally produced textiles and clothing; there is scope for developing the cotton, textile, and clothing sector regional value chains in Africa. 

For agriculture and food processing value chains, unique policy interventions proposed include the adoption of digital and biological technologies, effective engagement of smallholder farmers to transition into mechanised farming, removal of restrictions on maximum equity ownership investments by foreign investors to ensure free capital transfer and building robust linkages between the food manufacturing industry and the rural world. 

2021 and beyond
The AfCFTA is a potential game-changer for African transformative industrialisation translating possibilities into reality however requires research and policy insights to guide the design and implementation of pragmatic policy programmes. The webinar series contributes to this requirement.  

The Mandela School seeks to support the AfCFTA and transformative industrialisation agenda by acting as a bridge, facilitating dialogue with strategic partners, policymakers, and stakeholders. The School will continue to create space for ongoing conversations and dialogue. 

To learn more about the Mandela School’s ongoing comprehensive plans about the AfCFTA and transformative industrialisation, Professor Faizel Ismail is available for media interviews. Kindly contact Ms Petunia Thulo at +27 76 232 5517 and  to arrange a meeting with Prof Ismail.