Trade and Industry

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Future-proofing the plastics value chain in Southern Africa

WIDER Working Paper 2020/148

This working paper, Future-proofing the plastics value chain in Southern Africa, forms part of the project: Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED)


Plastics are ubiquitous across the region and play an important role in multiple industries. Most plastic products are based on a value chain that is grounded in petroleum refining, posing an environmental challenge. Plastic manufacturing in South Africa suffers from the high cost of polymers as inputs. Mozambique is endowed with large natural gas deposits.  

This research assesses the potential for the sustainable development of a plastics value chain in Southern Africa, with the aim of future-proofing the industry against changes in the petroleum space while bolstering growth in plastics manufacture and fostering a more equitable regional distribution of plastics activities. This study found that there is strong regional value chain potential between South Africa and Mozambique, with Mozambique producing natural gas feedstock and South Africa providing labour, capital, and technology. South African plastic manufacturers could also benefit from better input prices derived from better priced natural gas from Mozambique.

Download Working Paper:

A Policy Brief based on the working Paper is also available: Unlocking a regional plastics value chain between Mozambique and South Africa

TIPS acknowledges the support of the SA-TIED programme for this working paper, with special thanks to UNU-WIDER and the South African Department of Trade and Industry.