Malawi is ready to host the 41st SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government and has committed to pushing forward the region’s integration agenda, particularly the priority of industrialization.
Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eisenhower Nduwa Mkaka took over as the rotational chair of the SADC Council of Ministers from Mozambique’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Verónica Dlhovo at the Council meeting held on August 13 and 14.
The meeting set the agenda for the 41st SADC Heads of State and Government Summit to be held in Lilongwe, Malawi on August 17 and 18 under the theme, “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation.”
Unlike last year’s 40th Summit hosted by Mozambique and the first in the history of SADC to be hosted in virtual format following the outbreak of COVID-19, Malawi has said this year’s Summit will be in hybrid format, with 30 percent of delegates attending physically and 70 percent participating virtually.
This is due to health measures imposed by most Member States in response to the novel coronavirus.
President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of Malawi will assume the SADC Chair from his Mozambican counterpart, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi for a period of one year until August 2022.
Malawi, which prides itself as The Warm Heart of Africa, last chaired the regional community in 2013 – 2014.
“The Government of Malawi attaches greater importance to the principles, ideals, values, goals and aspirations of our forefathers as encapsulated in the SADC Treaty,” said Mkaka. “We are committed to continue spearheading the implementation of programmes and projects derived from the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) for 2020-2030 as guided by the SADC Vision 2050.”
The theme for this year is a continuation of the industrialization trajectory, as SADC has held its summits under the industrialization theme since the 2014 Summit held in Zimbabwe.
Mkaka said the emergence of COVID-19 requires SADC to redouble efforts in industrialisation as well as to embrace digital technologies and knowledge transfer in order “to attain these ambitious goals” which would allow the region to maximize on new market opportunities brought about by operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
AfCFTA, which came into operation in January this year, aims to boost trade within the continent by eliminating or reducing trade restrictions among African countries as well as facilitate easier movement of people across borders to deepen integration. Under the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), the region is