Building capacity to help Africa trade better

SADC looks to diversification to grow regional economy


SADC looks to diversification to grow regional economy

SADC looks to diversification to grow regional economy
Photo credit: GCIS

“The diversification of our economies and industrialisation will ultimately put the region on its rightful path as a global economic player,” said President Jacob Zuma, who is also the chair of the SADC regional bloc, on Tuesday.

Tshwane assumed the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in August, with its tenure theme being ‘Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains’.

Through this theme, Tshwane seeks to build momentum and continuity in the collective aspiration towards regional sustainable economic development and industrialisation.

As such, it has identified key activities which will be the development of a high impact Annual Operation Plan, with targeted interventions and public policy tools to foster the development of regional value-chains in agro-processing, pharmaceuticals and mineral beneficiation.

Another issue the region needs to address is connectivity in information, technology, and communications. President Zuma said this must be addressed for the region to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where industries are dominated by high-tech ICT.

In the SADC region – which consists of 15 countries with a population of 300 million people – only 16.3% of the population is using the internet, compared to a penetration of 47% globally.

The regional bloc is of the view that improved infrastructure can help to address socio-economic issues, ensure a better quality of life, boost regional economic integration, bridge the inequality gap and aid industrialisation efforts.

“Connectivity will ensure the attainment of the goals for regional economic integration, poverty alleviation and industrialisation,” President Zuma said.

The President was speaking at the second session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Tshwane.

SA-Zimbabwe BNC

President Jacob Zuma is hosting his Zimbabwe counterpart Robert Mugabe, who is in the country for the session of the BNC. It is a forum where the two countries review their relations.

The two leaders used the session to exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual concern and development in the SADC region.

The session opened with a vow from the two countries to use their bilateral relations to push for the economic emancipation of their people.

While the task is not easy, the two neighbouring countries, which share cultural and historic links, are certain that their joint efforts through mechanisms such as the BNC will lead them there.

President Zuma said South Africa and Zimbabwe’s historical, fraternal and cultural bonds demand that they meet on a regular basis to strengthen and consolidate bilateral cooperation and partnership.

“We note with satisfaction the ever-growing cooperation between our two countries as evidenced by the existing 40 agreements and memoranda of understanding. These agreements are aimed at promoting political, economic and social cooperation.”

The agreements cover a wide range of areas including double taxation, justice, defence, transport, water, science and technology, health, migration, labour, economic and trade cooperation, and tourism.

The two countries have put in place monitoring mechanisms such as Mid-Term Reviews.

President Mugabe used his address to recall the historical relations that Zimbabwe and South Africa share. He said while one can “choose [their] friends, [they cannot choose their] neighbours. However, if Zimbabwe had a choice, they would “still have chosen South Africa”.

"When we come here, we know we are coming to our second home… We are one, one revolution, one struggle, one future.”

The senior statesman expressed his satisfaction on the programmes and projects undertaken by the BNC, as they secure a common future.

President Mugabe called for improved local business environments to attract investments and concerted efforts to promote cross-border investments.

“New investment opportunities should be opened in airports, railway and road systems. The respective private and public sectors should not miss out on the opportunities we are trying to facilitate.”

Zimbabwe is one of South Africa’s top five trading partners on the continent, with trade statistics showing annual growth.

In 2016, South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe amounted to approximately R29.3 billion.

There are over 120 South African companies doing business in Zimbabwe in various sectors including mining, aviation, tourism, banking, property, retail, construction and the fast food sectors.

Beitbridge border in for a major overhaul

South Africa and Zimbabwe have established a joint committee to work on improving operations at the Beitbridge border post.

Beitbridge is the busiest road border on the continent, with much of the goods and services between Zimbabwe and South Africa passing through this strategic point. During the peak of the festive season in 2016, over 31 000 travellers passed through the border daily.

On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma announced that a joint technical committee will be established with officials from SA and Zimbabwe to set up the Beitbridge One Stop Border Post (OSBP). The team will develop the necessary legal framework for this project.

South Africa and Zimbabwe held the second session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Tshwane.

President Zuma said it was necessary to bolster the efficiency of Beitbridge.  

“I wish to underscore the strategic significance of a One Stop Border Post at the Beitbridge border. This border post is the busiest border post on the continent.” A One Stop Border Post aims to improve the legal movement of people and commodities across borders. Currently, travellers are processed at two facilities of the two respective countries. A One Stop Border Post would result in seamless movement at the border, as travellers would be processed at one facility.

The establishment of the Beitbridge One Stop Border Post forms part of government’s implementation of the Single Border Management Agency. Last year, South Africa and Mozambique integrated the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia border post, also known as Komatipoort. 

President Jacob Zuma said Beitbridge is key to boosting the two countries’ economies and as such, unnecessary delays at the border must be avoided. Zimbabwe is one of South Africa’s top five trading partners on the continent, with trade statistics showing annual growth. In 2016, South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe amounted to approximately R29.3 billion.

“It is important and urgent that we start in earnest the process of establishing a One Stop Border Post. Our two countries took a decision to do so as far back as 2009.” 

President Zuma and President Mugabe urged the relevant ministers and officials to work speedily on the project. They want a progress report at the next BNC.

Joint Communiqué on the occasion of the second session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe held on 3 October 2017 in Pretoria, RSA

  1. At the invitation of His Excellency, Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, Mr Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe visited the Republic of South Africa on the 3rd of October 2017 on the occasion of the Second Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe. 

  2. The meeting of the two Heads of State was preceded by a Ministerial Meeting which took place on the 2nd of October 2017 and a Senior Officials’ Meeting held from the 28th to the 29th of September 2017.

  3. During the official talks, the two Heads of State exchanged views on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

  4. The two Presidents reviewed bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction with the state of those relations. They agreed that the implementation of the Agreement on the Bi-National Commission signed by both countries on the 8th of April 2015 was the most effective way of enhancing cooperation between the two countries. They also reaffirmed the strategic importance of the BNC mechanism in promoting political, economic, social, security, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation.

  5. The two Heads of State received a progress report from the Ministers on the implementation of agreements signed and commitments made as well as decisions adopted at the 1st Session of the Bi-National Commission. The two Heads of State expressed their satisfaction with progress so far achieved.

  6. Having noted the developments on the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Beitbridge, they welcomed the establishment of a Joint Technical Committee whose mandate, among other things, will be to develop the necessary legal framework for the Project. The two Heads of State reaffirmed the strategic importance of the OSBP and directed the relevant Ministers to fast-track its operationalisation.

  7. The two Heads of State noted the existence of more than forty (40) bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between the two countries and directed that these Agreements be fully implemented. They further emphasised the need to finalise all outstanding Agreements and MoUs.

  8. The two Heads of State welcomed the signing of five (5) Agreements in the areas of Energy, Environment, Information Communications Technologies and Sports and Recreation during the Bi-National Commission.

  9. The two Heads of State reiterated their commitment to improving and strengthening the economic relations between the two countries by facilitating trade and removing impediments constraining bilateral trade and investments.

  10. The two Heads of State exchanged views on the political and security situation in the region. They further reaffirmed their commitment to working together in pursuit of sustainable peace, stability and economic development of the region.

  11. His Excellency, President Mugabe further congratulated His Excellency President Zuma for his election as the Chair of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and reassured him of Zimbabwe’s support during South Africa’s tenure as Chair of the regional organisation.

  12. The two Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to SADC and underscored the importance of having member states participate at the appropriate level during SADC Summits.

  13. The two Presidents welcomed the admission of Comoros into the SADC family.

  14. The two Presidents congratulated the people of the Republic of Angola for conducting peaceful, fair and credible elections.They further congratulated His Excellency President João Lourenço on his election as President of Angola and committed themselves to working with him in pursuit of peace, stability and economic integration of the region.

  15. The two Presidents reviewed developments in the region, in particular the situation in Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They further urged the two countries to implement the relevant SADC decisions and recommendations.

  16. The two Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to the continental integration processes and called for the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its Action Plan.

  17. The two Heads of State reviewed the political developments on the continent and expressed their concern on the ongoing instability in some parts of the continent. In this regard, they reaffirmed their commitment to work together in pursuit of sustainable peace and stability.

  18. The two Presidents reaffirmed the two countries’ long standing solidarity with the peoples of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and Palestine. With regards to the SADR, the two Heads of State reaffirmed the need for SADC to convene a solidarity conference with the people of Western Sahara.

  19. The two Presidents reaffirmed their support and commitment to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in 2015. They reiterated the call for the reform of the multilateral system and in particular the UN Security Council.

  20. His Excellency, President Mugabe expressed his gratitude for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to him and his delegation. He extended an invitation to His Excellency President Zuma to a working visit in Zimbabwe in 2018 for the 3rd session of the BNC, on a date to be mutually agreed upon through diplomatic channels.

Done at Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, 3 October 2017


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