Incoming SADC chair calls for improved economic cooperation
The 35th Ordinary Summit of the Southern African Development Community got underway in Gaborone, Botswana on 17 August with incoming chair, President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana, calling for improved economic cooperation within the region.
Although steady progress has been realized by SADC in boosting intra-regional trade, imbalances still exist within the region as the majority of southern African countries continue to trade more with the outside world instead of among themselves.
This has been attributed to various factors including poor infrastructure and imposition of non-tariff barriers by African countries.
Another major factor is the lack of a vibrant industrialization base that transforms African countries from being sources of cheap raw materials into producers of finished products.
Speaking soon after taking over the SADC chair from his Zimbabwean counterpart President Robert Mugabe, Khama said it was time southern Africa addressed the situation to ensure the region benefits from its own resources.
“The current trade imbalances within the SADC region are reason enough for us to expedite and jump-start efforts towards industrial development, particularly with regard to the creation of value-chains,” Khama said.
He urged the more advanced economies within the region to assist those that are least developed and small “to leverage on them (and) to also increase their productive capacities.”
Such cooperation among SADC countries, he said, “will lead to jobs being created and thus reducing labour mobility and concentration in one or two economies in the region.”
SADC this year adopted an Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap to leverage on its vast natural resources endowment and ensure that the region gets maximum benefits from these to improve the livelihood of its citizens.
Khama said while the strategy had “reshaped the pace and course of our region in our quest to maximize beneficiation of our natural resources as a way of creating a better life our people,” it was critical for the region to fully implement the measures proposed in the strategy to ensure the industrialization blueprint is a success.
“It is, therefore, my sincere hope that through our deliberations going forward, we will be able to come up with decisions which will guide and direct our officials towards actualising the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.”
Adopted by the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Harare, Zimbabwe in April, the Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap aims at accelerating the momentum towards strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of economies of the region.
It is anchored on three pillars, industrialization, competitiveness and regional integration
Khama said is it equally important to continue scaling-up the implementation of regional infrastructure, given that it is a “a key enabler to economic integration and development, and more importantly, in support of our industrialisation effort”
“We should, therefore, redouble our efforts towards accelerating implementation of power generation and transmission projects as the regional economy is virtually on its knees owing to incessant power outages that continue to disrupt economic activities and adversely impact on the quality of lives of our people,” he said.
With regard to food security, there is need for SADC to boost agricultural development including agro-processing since the sector is one of the component of the industrialization programme.
On the recent launch of Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) involving the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community and SADC, he said the region should take advantage of the enlarged market to boost trade among other African countries.
The Tripartite FTA, which creates a combined population of some 600 million people covering half of the member states of the African Union (AU) and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about US$1 trillion, aims to promote the smooth movement of goods and services across borders, as well as allowing member countries to harmonize regional trade policies to promote equal competition.
“This (launch of the Tripartite FTA) is indeed a milestone achievement in our endeavor to increase trade among African states,” he said, adding that “it is quite disheartening that there is negligible trade between and among African states,” because most African countries “are primarily suppliers of raw materials with very few industrialized nations among us.”
Khama said despite the challenges, SADC and the rest of the African continent has the capacity to address these challenges, particularly if all countries remain united and committed to the goals of advancing regional integration.
“I wish to call for our collective efforts in ensuring that we are successful in our endeavours to transform the SADC region into a better place, envied throughout the world as a beacon for political stability and economic prosperity,” he said.
“As such, I take this opportunity to encourage all of us to be part of the journey towards ensuring that SADC successfully delivers on its mandate.”
Outgoing SADC chair, President Robert Mugabe concurred, saying countries in the region can achieve more by working together rather than in isolation.
He urged SADC member states to implement all regional decisions, including the Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap and the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 to advance the integration agenda.
“Let us now work assiduously towards the early and speedy implementation of these regional programmes and activities,” he said.
The Revised RISDP is a five-year plan that guides the implementation of all SADC programmes from 2015-2020.
The 35th SADC Summit is running under the theme, “Accelerating Industrialization of SADC Economies, Through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital.”
The theme continues the trajectory of the previous Summit held last year in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, which focused on economic transformation and sustainable development “through beneficiation and value addition”.
» All the Statements on the occasion of the official opening 35th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State are available at this link.
Acceptance Speech by His Excellency, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana at the 35th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government, 17 August 2015
It is an honour for me to address this 35th Summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government. I am humbled by the confidence that the Region has demonstrated by bestowing Botswana the honour of chairing SADC for the next twelve (12) months.
Allow me, to pay tribute to the outgoing Chairperson of SADC, His Excellency Robert Gabriel Mugabe who has guided the Organisation and when during his tenure, SADC adopted the Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map and the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), at the Extra-Ordinary Summit held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in April 2015. There is no doubt that this has reshaped the pace and course of our region in our quest to maximise beneficiation of our natural resources as a way of creating a better life our people.
It is imperative for the Region to expedite the implementation of the RISDP and bring to life the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map.
To this end, this Summit is appropriately being held under the theme “Accelerating Industrialisation of SADC Economies through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital”.
The current trade imbalances within the SADC region are reason enough for us to expedite and jump-start efforts towards industrial development, particularly with regard to the creation of value-chains. In this way, the more industrially advanced economies within us can assist the least-developed and small vulnerable economies to leverage on them to also increase their productive capacities. In turn, this will lead to jobs being created and thus reducing labour mobility and concentration in one or two economies in the region.
It is therefore my sincere hope that through our deliberations going forward, we will be able to come up with decisions which will guide and direct our officials towards actualising the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge and applaud the achievement in the area of market integration, relating to the recent launch of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt in June 2015. This is indeed a milestone achievement in our endeavour to increase trade among African states. It is quite disheartening that there is negligible trade between and among African states. It is a sad fact that we are primarily suppliers of raw materials with very few industrialised nations among us.
Equally important is the need to continue to scale up implementation of regional infrastructure, given that it is a key enabler to economic integration and development, and more importantly, in support of our industrialisation effort. We should therefore redouble our efforts towards accelerating implementation of power generation and transmission projects as the regional economy is virtually on its knees owing to incessant power outages that continue to disrupt economic activities and adversely impact on the quality of lives of our people.
The conclusion of the Negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and SADC is another milestone achievement which must be acknowledged as it guarantees uninterrupted market access for SADC exports to the EU market.
In the area of peace, security and democracy, the SADC region remains one of the most peaceful and stable on the Continent, thanks to mechanisms that we have put in place in the context of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. I wish to commend, in particular, the Organ Troika under the Chairpersonship of President Jacob Zuma, for working tirelessly and providing rapid response to emerging challenges on peace and security.
We are perturbed by the rising incidences of terrorism and brutal attacks in East and West Africa together with those in the Magrheb region which have resulted in the loss of numerous innocent lives. We seriously condemn these criminal acts against humanity and pray for the end of these attacks. The SADC region’s contribution towards Africa’s standby Force remains critical, as there would be no stability in Southern Africa, without continental stability.
The war on reducing HIV and AIDS infections is continuing. The SADC Secretariat should continue to monitor the situation and coordinate the necessary regional interventions with Member States until we are comfortable that further HIV infections are a thing of the past.
As regards food security, there is no doubt that our ability to provide adequate food for the region is a matter of pride and dignity. We need to maintain self-sufficiency, bearing in mind that one component of our industrialisation programme must be agro-processing, which requires a consistent supply of agricultural products.
The region should therefore remain steadfast in its effort to implement the key activities articulated by the Maseru Declaration on HIV and AIDS as well as the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.
It is critical that we continue to formulate new and strengthen existing programmes of intervention to address poverty in our region. The era of MDGs has come and gone, and it is evident that some progress has been made. As we move into the era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be launched at this year’s United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, we need to brace ourselves for the development of a robust result based strategy that guarantees positive socio-economic outcomes for our citizens.
In the area of climate change, SADC continues to work with all progressive partners to ensure the protection of the planet for the benefit of our future generations that may question our sincerity in years to come. In the same vein, we need to ensure that we build consensus on a continental basis as we proceed to global fora, among them, COP 21 to be held in Paris, France, in December, 2015. In the meantime, we need to scale up our efforts towards mitigation of potential adversities of climate change, in particular adaptation measures and awareness creation amongst our citizens. In the final analysis, as a region and as a continent, we need to work together with other progressive global partners to ensure that we contribute to a successor statute to the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2020.
I wish to conclude, by calling for our collective efforts in ensuring that we are successful in our endeavours to transform the SADC region into a better place, envied throughout the world as a beacon for political stability and economic prosperity. As such, I take this opportunity to encourage all of us to be part of the journey towards ensuring that SADC successfully delivers on its mandate.
I thank you for your kind attention.
Pula! Pula ! Pula !