We commend SADC countries for improving the ease of doing business in their territories, but urge them to redouble their efforts so as to make the region more attractive to investors.
According to the Ease of Doing Business Index released recently by the World Bank, five SADC countries are in the top 10 African countries that have improved their way of doing business (see page 12).
The five SADC countries on that list are Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana, Seychelles, and Zambia. They truly deserve the accolades and it is our hope that other countries in the region will take a leaf from them and also improve their ways of doing business.
That the SADC region is the most stable and peaceful region on the African continent is there for everyone to see. And on top of that, it is regarded as the “Persian Gulf” of strategic minerals, meaning the region is endowed with the mineral resources to attract investors.
Opportunities abound in the mining of minerals such as gold, diamonds, nickel, platinum, uranium, iron, copper, and cobalt. Recently, massive gas and coal resources were discovered in Mozambique, making it one of the investors’ paradise in the SADC region.
There are also massive opportunities in infrastructure development, especially in the development of power projects, roads and rail infrastructure. Added to that, is the spectacular tourism attraction areas that are the envy of many.
But what governments in the region need to work on vigorously is improving the way of doing business. What measures are needed to lure to the region, investors who would otherwise go other parts of the world?
It is trite that capital goes where it is respected and conditions are conducive for the owners of the capital to commit themselves. Investors do not need to go through hassles in order to bring their money for investment. On our part as a region, we need those investors – local, regional and foreign – to create jobs for our people. In turn, the investors pay taxes which help to develop countries.
The fact that only five countries, out of the 16 members of the regional bloc, have created environments conducive doing business therefore means the remaining 11 have their work cut out. They must up the tempo if they are to catch up with the others in order to woo investors.
That the region adopted the theme “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains” at its summit last year means leaders are aware of what is needed to develop the region – private sector investment. All the governments need to do therefore is create environments to enable private businesses to come on board and thrive.
The SADC initiative on industrialisation and beneficiation will not be carried through by governments alone. The private businesses have a huge role to play in ensuring that this comes to fruition.
SADC leaders must therefore grasp the nettle and gird their loins to ensure that there are sound policies to ensure ease of doing business across the region. There is certainly no need to reinvent the wheel. Those five countries in the World Bank’s top 10 on the ease of doing index must lead the way and show the others how this can be achieved.
There is a need to move away from the talk shows and get down to serious business that must be done at both government and private sector levels in the region.
The first port of call would be to work on projects that have been identified in the region, and these range from the power generation, water and sewage reticulation, roads and railways, and ports that will help to improve the lives of the people of the SADC region.
There is a need to identify the stumbling blocks that have been holding back investors from partnering governments, or even going it alone, in implementing some of the identified projects. For example, is it the tax regimes, labour force, bureacracy or poor infrastructure in some countries? Or is it the element of greed and corruption whereby officials demand kickbacks from potential investors? If so, then what are the governments in the region doing to overcome this?
We believe with the coming on board of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), countries in our region must move with speed to ease the way business is conducted. Otherwise investors will shun those countries whose regimes are not open for business and go where their capital is respected.