Windhoek - The SADC Council of Ministers has set a solid foundation for the implementation of the SADC 38th Summit theme: ‘Promoting infrastructure development and youth empowerment for sustainable development’.
In an interview, Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, who is the current Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said during the time between August last year to date, the council mainly focused on two of the several decisions taken by the 38th SADC summit.
These are to establish the SADC University of Transformation and advance the industrialisation policy involving the youth.
According to Nandi-Ndaitwah, the 38th SADC summit theme focuses on the youth and the two communiqués are essential for the implementation of the theme.
She said since Namibia took over the chairmanship last year, member states have been working on the reference for the consultancy of SADC University of Transformation and the consultancy will be used to establish a way forward during the SADC Council of Ministers 15-16 March 2019.
“We were directed that we should now develop the concept of the SADC University of Transformation further and come up with a clear policy directive on how it will work, and this is what we are currently doing. Since August, we have been working on the terms of reference for the consultancy, which are now finalised,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
“Although this university is a virtual university, there is going to be an administrative office and that is one area we have worked on.”
The SADC University of Transformation is a concept initiated by eSwatini’s King Mswati III during his tenure as SADC Chair in 2016 where he proposed that the establishment of the institution will assist industrial production.
After a serious, critical analysis and deliberation by ministers of high and tertiary education in the region, it was decided that the university should be established as a virtual institution based on the concept of networking where there will be centres of excellence and specialisation.
Thus, the SADC 38th Summit approved the operationalisation of the concept to focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, commercialisation, technology transfer, enterprise development, digital and the knowledge economy, to support the SADC industrialisation agenda.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the focus of SADC, currently, is to implement the SADC industrialisation plan, which has a component of inclusiveness in the sense that all SADC citizens have to be involved in the industrialisation strategies.
According to the Chairperson of the SADC Council Ministers, member states have been working together since last year to advance the industrialisation policy while involving the youth.
“Since August last year, we have been putting up mechanism on how we can operationalise the theme. As such, we had three meetings on the matter, the first one was on how to sensitise SADC youth theme through multimedia campaign and that they should have youth involved, and share as well as exchange ideas. They agreed to use different multimedia to exchange and share information in South Africa,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
She said in Lilongwe, Malawi, in September last year, SADC member states met to discuss how the regional youth can be involved in the economic sector, specifically in the fishery sector. According to her, it was decided that young people must be part of the fishery projects and particularly in research.
The other meeting was done in Windhoek, Namibia, in December last year where the youth across the region met for the Youth Forum Summit to discuss the necessary infrastructure needed for young people to participate in the economic sector.
An update on several other deliberations the council has made was disclosed during the two-day SADC Council of Ministers held in Windhoek on Friday and Saturday.
The Council of Ministers oversees the functioning and development of 16 SADC member states and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented.