This week, we carry an interview with the SADC Chairperson and Namibian President, Dr Hage Geingob, in which he speaks about the need for implementation of the SADC industrialisation and beneficiation policies.
Geingob also speaks about the importance of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the continental free trade area, the free movement of people, goods and services, and the need for unity of purpose among African nations so as to achieve the desired goals of economic development and prosperity for the peoples of the continent.
We quote him as saying: “Industrialisation without controlling your resources and value addition is not an easy thing. We have to build infrastructure, we need investment here so that we can create employment, create industries to produce goods. We are very far from doing that. Education is needed, training is also needed. Countries were not built by PhDs like we have here, they were built by artisans. So our people need to have vocational training to do things with their own hands.”
President Geingob’s call is most welcome especially at a time the SADC region, and the African continent as a whole, need to seriously come up with solutions to improve the livelihoods of people on the continent. This in line with the principles and tenets of the recently launched Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
Africa cannot remain behind other regions of the world when it comes to economic development and prosperity. As Geingob rightly pointed out, the continent is endowed with vast mineral resources which needs to be exploited and processed on the continent so as to create jobs and improve the lives of its people. Our people cannot continue to drown in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe for greener pastures. Jobs and opportunities for them must be created on the continent.
SADC and the other REC’s in Africa must therefore continue to pursue the goal of integration and economic emancipation. Member states share a common goal and a common vision to transform the continent and the lives of their peoples.
Africa's RECs comprise the eight sub regional bodies which are the building blocks of the African Economic Community established in the 1991 Abuja Treaty which provides the overarching framework for continental economic integration. These are the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) in the north, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the west, the East African Community (EAC) in the east, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) also in the east, SADC in the south, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in the south-east, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in the centre, and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD) in the north.
Africa’s RECs do not only constitute key building blocks for economic integration in Africa, but are also key actors working in collaboration with the AU in ensuring peace and stability in their regions. As the building blocks and implementing arms of the AU, the RECs have been central to various transformative programmes of the continent, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) adopted in 2001, and the AU’s Agenda 2063 adopted in January 2015, and its First Ten-Year Implementation Plan adopted by the 25th Summit of the AU in June 2015.
Beyond their role in peace and security, RECs have the immense challenge of working with governments, civil society and the AU Commission in raising the standard of living of the people of Africa and contributing towards the progress and development of the continent through economic growth and social development.
Thus member states of the various RECs must work together in projects and programmes that ensure that the vision of transforming the continent is achieved. This means countries must collaborate on identified projects that are aimed at developing the regions’ economies. They must also work together to ensure peace and tranquility on the continent, which will create the conditions necessary for economic development to take place.
We believe there is more that unites Africans than that which divides them and that the REC’s must therefore continue to pull together towards the attainment of the AU’s common vision and the economic emancipation of people on the continent.
Policies such as industrialisation and beneficiation of mineral resources found on the continent before they are exported, which SADC is pursuing, must resonate across the entire continent if poverty is to be eradicated. The rallying call must be unity of purpose towards the economic development of Africa. United we stand and divided we fall.