SD must soon choose between SACU, COMESA, SADCPosted on Thursday, June 21st, 2012 by Nkambule, Nomthandazo (The Swazi Observer, Mbabane) in News
Swaziland must decide soon whether it wants to be a member of either the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community (SADC) or the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU).
FINMARK Trust Regional Financial Integration Specialist, Mojgan Derakhshani said most of the countries in the region also belonged to numerous customs unions. She said in 2009, a single customs union was supposed to be achieved.
“It was not as most countries belong to different economic blocks for example Swaziland belongs to SACU, Tanzania to EAC. Countries cannot be members of so many customs unions, some are even hesitant. Swaziland is also still trying to examine whether to be on SADC, COMESA or SACU. Many efforts are being done to examine this so as to make the very right choice and a number of studies are being conducted,” she said. Derakhshani said Africa was willing to have one currency but explained that this should be done with much caution considering the problems that have recently engulfed the Euro Zone.
“As we are moving towards regional integration by 2018, the countries must know what this entails. It must be done carefully, this has been approved by all the heads of state.
“Also, SADC must achieve the payment systems project. It will start with all Common Monetary Area (CMA) countries, its pilot starts next month. Non-CMA countries want to join in and they are excited,” she said.
ACTESA to identify areas of strengthening trade, markets
The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) will from today share and discuss areas identified as necessary to strengthening production, trade and markets with its stakeholders.
This will be in a meeting themed ‘Aligning farmer’s interests and aspirations to ACTESA’s five-year strategy.’
Acting Chief Executive Officer, Chungu Mwila said COMESA through ACTESA would host the 2nd regional stakeholder farmers meeting at Nairobi, Kenya.
He said the three-day meeting would allow participants to provide input into the ACTESA strategy, operational plan and institutionalise it in each region on the barriers they face to efficiently market their products.
“The meeting will encourage dialogue between farmers at a regional level and will enable ACTESA to incorporate the issues to be raised and ways of dealing with them in its strategy.
“ACTESA has developed an operational plan, which provides a roadmap and implementation strategies for achieving the goals and objectives of its strategic plan.
“The overall objectives of the meeting includes; to bring all stakeholder farmers to the same level of understanding of what is expected of ACTESA, as Specialised Agency of COMESA in line with farmers needs and expectations,” he said.
Mwila said participants would be able to share and discuss the draft Charter establishing ACTESA, share ACTESA’s five-year strategy and the operational plan.
Participants would also discuss areas identified as necessary to strengthening production, trade and markets as highlighted in the ACTESA Strategy.
Identify capacity building, policy dialogue, advocacy and outreach activities, which, would contribute to the competitiveness objective of ACTESA in the Strategy and thus help in improving the status of the farmers in staple food markets sector in the region.
‘Come up with strategies of promoting investment’
Swaziland must come up with strategies of promoting investment.
Principal Finance Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Nokuthula Dlamini said the country must identify areas of interrogation so as to adopt the protocol on finance and investment by the SADC region. She said the protocol must also be domesticated. Sabelo Mabuza from the same ministry said the country’s investment climate must be given prominence. He said Swaziland Investment Promotions Authority (SIPA) was trying hard in making the investment climate conducive as recently they have launched the country’s Investor Roadmap.
“This roadmap is in line with what the protocol on investment and finance was trying to address. Worth noting is that laws can help change the investment climate,” he said.
On that note, SIPA’s Nomcebo Fakudze said the authority would soon draft the country’s investor guide.
She said there were investment policies in the country but were awaiting to be passed into laws as they have been in parliament for some time now.
COMESA farmers exposed to monopoly of input suppliers
Farmers in COMESA countries continue to face the challenge of monopoly of input suppliers.
ACTESA Acting Chief Executive Officer Chungu Mwila said this and other challenges emanated from a meeting held in Zambia in April.
He said this was a first regional farmers meeting themed ‘Aligning production to markets.’
Mwila said the Zambia meeting was attended by representatives of farmers’ organisation and governments from COMESA region, development agencies and implementing partners.
“At the meeting, we identified a number of challenges facing farmers, particularly with respect to production and markets.
“In this regard the following were considered some of the key issues; inputs (availability of appropriate certified inputs, timely access), output storage handling and management, extension services.
“Farmers in the region expressed their need for market information, they also complained that they struggle with access to organised markets,” he said.
He said they made a few suggestions relating to markets especially for sustainability of farmers.
Mwila said it was recommended that electronic platforms for buyers and sellers must be established, and farmers should be trained on value addition and processing.
He said existing market information systems must be strengthened and the promotion of the development of new ones must resume.
“Governments are also expected to provide conducive environment for production and trade. There has to be a roll out of tele-centres for farmers in rural areas,” he said.
Mwila urged COMESA, SADC, East African Community (EAC) and national governments to facilitate policy harmonisation, allow smallholder to effectively be regional arrangements, increased production and access to regional markets.
He said appropriate funding mechanisms must be established by these regional bodies and national governments like the regional agriculture development fund. Measures aimed at enhancing access to inputs must be put in place.
The private sector in its capacity as a partner in agriculture must increase agricultural development as well as establish partnerships with public sector and communities. The private sector would also be expected to establish fair, open and transparent arrangements in partnerships with farmers.
Development partners must allocate more development support to addressing production and marketing related challenges. The partners must ease access conditionalities for farmers and farmer organisations.