Policy makers face critical decisions regarding a regional economic strategy in southern Africa and this work stream will bring together personnel from Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), a South Africa think tank, dti, and UNU-WIDER to support this important agenda through the production of policy-relevant research across four focus areas:

  • South Africa, SADC and beyond

  • South Africa as a regional investor

  • the spatial economy of southern Africa

  • the political economy of regional growth and

  • strengthening regional value-chain

The improved growth dynamics in Africa in general, and in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in particular, has led to rapid growth in regional trade combined with an improved political and economic environment within the region. So far regional integration has mainly involved the ‘easy’ first stage toward integration — exchange of market access — and several major issues have surfaced with respect to the regional integration agenda, for example; broad-based policy steps needed to deepen regional integration have slowed considerably, and a notable incoherence between national policies and the regional integration agenda.

The strong linkages with regional research institutions developed during the ‘Regional Growth and Development in Southern Africa’ programme, and UNU-WIDER’s existing in-country engagements with governments throughout the region, will offer the opportunity to structure policy engagements focused on the results of the research undertaken within this work stream. The nature of this regional work stream and its network of regional research institutions offers substantial scope for capacity-building, including transfer of accumulated expertise to a range of countries in the SADC region through collaboration with new research partners.

Project Papers


The Department of Trade and Industry requires research support as part of its aim to achieve greater levels of African industrial development with, and through, economic integration in Africa. Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED) drafted a concept note, proposing key elements of an African Industrial Development and Integration Research Project (AIDIRP) that will inform the strategic direction taken by South Africa, with a regional focus on Southern and East Africa. This is not to the exclusion of a continent wide strategy, however, it is a pragmatic and practical approach to identify, agree and implement concrete plans at the sectoral level including through bilateral country initiatives and together with institutional partnerships such as between development finance institutions in the region and together with business groupings. This might be contrasted with the many grand regional initiatives which have generally shared the feature of poor implementation and over-ambitious goals.

A second key premise for our proposals is that a shared understanding must be developed across countries of the key challenges impeding development, and that this requires jointly engaging in the analysis of the issues. To this end we propose developing a network of industrial development research groups across countries.

Given the nature and scale of the project, the findings from the research undertaken will include recommendations for policy interventions; potential steps to build economic hubs and clusters to realise agglomeration economies; and to develop competitiveness along regional value chains.

Research Reports

Growth and Development in the Cosmetics, Soaps and Detergents Regional Value Chains: South Africa and Zambia

Growth and Development in the Sugar to Confectionery Value Chain

Cross-cutting Competition Issues in Regional Industrial Development

Maintaining and Building Capabilities in Capital Equipment and Related Industries in Mozambique and South Africa

Growth and development of the oilseeds-edible-oils value chain in Tanzania and South Africa


Innovation and Inclusion Industrialisation in Agro-Processing is a two-year collaboration between researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Johannesburg, and the Economic and Social Research Foundation, Tanzania.

The projects is a comparative study conducted across Tanzania and South Africa focusing on three value chains: maize meal, citrus and dairy.  

The three aims of the study are:

  1. To describe the factors that determine innovation and inclusion in agro-processing.

  2. Explain the challenges to promoting SME participation in agro-processing value chains

  3. To use these findings to support industrial policy formulation at the national and regional level.

The project is publicly-funded academic research. The project grant comes from the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Global Challenges Research Fund.

More information can be found here.


Countries in the southern African region face challenges when it comes to the transformation of their economies, the need for job creation and the sharing of the benefits of growth. In a project commissioned and funded by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), this series of research papers develops regional growth and development initiatives that generate economic transformation and widely shared development benefits. The research was undertaken in conjunction with policy and research institutions in the region.

Project papers

The expansion of regional supermarket chains and implications for local suppliers

The expansion of regional supermarket chains

The expansion of regional supermarket chains: Implications on suppliers in Botswana and South Africa

Development of the animal feed to poultry value chain across Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe

Identifying growth opportunities in the Southern African Development Community through regional value chains

Mining-related national systems of innovation in southern Africa

Can mining promote industrialization?

Understanding intra-regional transport: Competition in road transportation between Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Towards the integration of markets: Competition in road transportation of perishable goods between Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Research Briefs

Supermarkets and regional growth in Southern Africa

Reducing transport costs to spur regional growth in Southern Africa


The internationalisation of supermarkets and the nature of competitive rivalry in retailing in southern Africa

Causes of high road freight costs in southern Africa for perishables and commodities

Regional Value Chains in SADC: The case of the animal feed to poultry value chain

Mining-related National Systems of Innovation in Southern Africa: A Regional Perspective


Regional Integration and the Role of Supermarkets - an interview with Reena das Nair

Regional Integration and Mining Value Chains - an interview with Judith Fessehaie

Reena Das Nair – Southern Africa: Supermarkets Across the Region

Simon Roberts – Playing Chicken: Food and Trade in Southern Africa


Regional integration in southern Africa through supermarkets


How big supermarket chains in southern Africa keep out small suppliers

Why new entrants struggle to break into South Africa’s retail space