By Hilary Mare
NEW SADC chairperson, Namibia’s President Hage Geingob has hinted at the pursuit of a regional development fund that will be used to drive infrastructure development in the SADC region.
Speaking soon after the conclusion of the 38th SADC summit for Heads of State and Government on Saturday, Geingob noted that although donor funding to the SADC are proving difficult, it is time to urge member states to realise that in order for the region to develop, money is required.
“If we are to talk about development we need a fund that will enable us to do so. As you know the donations to the SADC budget it is not easy but of course we need to urge the members that to do things we need money. To think of regional infrastructure development we need to have a fund, “said Geingob. He added that SADC secretariat will work out the modalities and technicalities of such a fund.
In his acceptance speech last Friday, Geingob pledged to work closely with member states to ensure that SADC economic growth and industrialisation agendas are supported by infrastructure development.
“During my tenure as Chairperson, I will strive to ensure that SADC remains focused on the promotion of intra-Africa trade. The aim is to foster the consolidation of synergies that will result in the effective implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap. We should not falter in our pursuit of industrialisation. As a regional economic community, we have contributed meaningfully to the African Union Institutional Reform process. And we shall continue to make our voice heard,” he said.
Former SADC chairperson and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed the same views saying that SADC needs to continue pushing for industrial growth and development in the region.
He added that with the help of the private sector, the region must also put special focus on developing skills in agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, energy and pharmaceuticals.
“We, therefore, need to ensure that we create a conducive environment for business to thrive, and to deepen our engagement with the private sector.
“Collaboration with the private sector is important not only in designing SADC regional strategies and initiatives but also in identifying impediments to greater regional economic integration,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa also noted that over the period of his chairmanship, SADC was able to secure more than $500 million of committed productive investments by South African companies in each of the priority value chains across the region.
“The investments cover forestry, agriculture and agro-processing, fertilisers, mining and mineral processing, and pharmaceuticals,” Ramaphosa said.
Progress in SADC projects
The SADC Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System has gained significant momentum, establishing a firm platform for increased intra-SADC trade and investment and further strengthening regional financial integration.
The SADC Energy Foresight and Assessment Study in support of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap are underway, with data gathered from six of the member states.
The body reported that SADC Engineering Needs and Numbers Study is close to completion. It aims to obtain a better understanding of the engineering capacities in the SADC region to allow for better planning and implementation of infrastructure programmes.
Progress has been made in addressing tuberculosis in the mining sector across 10 SADC countries. More than 10 000 claimants received payment and one-stop service centres were opened in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Eswatini, thereby increasing access of ex-mineworkers to decentralised services.
Other progress reported include the Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation project that is focusing on establishing and strengthening regional and sub-regional networks of regulatory authorities, as well as the implementation of Phase III of the SADC Roam-Like-At Home Initiative, which began in October 2017.
This entails the development of a harmonised cost model for wholesale and retail roaming tariffs to be used by all national regulatory authorities in SADC.
“Through our joint efforts, the region has now established a healthy pipeline of bankable projects, which we now need to see through to completion,” SADC said.
Looking into the future, the regional body acknowledged that it needs to harness the youthfulness of the region by developing human capital, speed up economic growth and foster sustainability.
“There is an increasing number of young entrepreneurs, who are exploring a range of business possibilities. We need to support them by promoting the development of small businesses, creating vocational training programmes and preparing them with the skills they need for a rapidly changing economy,”
Another key focus should be the diffusion of digital technologies to secure the future. The digital economy is an increasingly important driver of economic growth and can play a significant role in accelerating development, enhancing the productivity of existing industries, cultivating new markets and industries, and achieving inclusive, sustainable growth.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015