SADC member states must maintain momentum towards integration

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SADC’s rallying call and motto is “Towards a common future”. This means member states share a common goal and a common vision to transform the region and the lives of their peoples. 

Thus member states are expected to work together in projects and programmes that ensure that this common vision is achieved.  This means countries must collaborate on identified projects that are aimed at transforming the region’s economies.

We therefore call upon the SADC leaders to keep this momentum towards regional integration and development as they meet for their 39th Ordinary Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, next week.

We also expect the leaders to take stock of developments since the last summit in Windhoek, Namibia, last year, and push for the implementation of agreed programmes. We believe the region has over the years come up with sound policies which are aimed at developing member countries’ economies for the betterment of their peoples.  

This year’s summit will run under the theme “A Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-Regional Trade and Job Creation”.   The leaders are therefore expected to deliberate on a wide range of issues, including reviewing progress made towards achieving the longstanding vision of a united, prosperous and integrated region.

A prosperous SADC is not only good for the Southern African region, but the entire African continent.  As we have said before, the region is endowed with vast natural resources which can be used to turn around the fortunes of its people.

What is needed is proper co-ordination on the exploitation of these resources. We believe there is more that unites the region than that which divides it and that the 16-member trading bloc needs to pull together towards their common vision.  Already, Namibia has shown that there is more that can be achieved by countries working together.  Windhoek has provided dry ports facilities to neighbours and landlocked Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe in a good gesture aimed at facilitating regional integration and easing trade with and by its neighbours and the international community.

The recent commissioning of the new container terminal at the Port of Walvis Bay, we believe, is a huge leap forward towards the complete integration of the SADC region. Added to that is the proposal to build a railway line linking the port to fellow SADC member states. 

This is in line with the region’s common policy on infrastructure development and industrialisation strategy and roadmap.  Infrastructure projects are the backbone that will lift SADC nations and we believe working together in developing ports, railways, roads, water infrastructure and power generation, the region will uplift the lives of its people.  

There is therefore no reason why SADC countries should not work together on identified projects. The guiding principle of a common vision must lead member states in whatever projects they pursue. The rallying call must be unity of purpose.

As we report elsewhere in this issue, one of the major highlights of the summit will be a progress report on the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063, which was adopted in 2015 to unlock the industrial potential of the region.

Industrialisation is a top priority for Southern Africa, and since 2014 all SADC summits have focused on how the region can attain industrial development.

In this regard, the summit will receive a progress report on how member states are implementing various measures to accelerate economic growth through industrial development.

With the region being ravaged by drought, the leaders are expected to come up with measures to address food insecurity after a poor harvest during the 2018/19 agricultural season. Analysts say the SADC region has a cereal deficit of more than 5.4 million tonnes this year following subdued rainfall.  

Climate change, which has seen droughts and cyclones affecting the region, must therefore top the agenda of the summit, and leaders must come up with concrete strategies of addressing the ravages brought about by nature.   Thus leaders must address the bread and butter issues that affect citizens across the region.

Also crucial is the need to keep the momentum on ensuring that there is peace across the region.  It is commendable that SADC is one of the most peaceful RECs on the African continent.  But there is a need for this peace to be nurtured and preserved. Without peace, there will not be any economic development to talk about. 

Citizens across the region will next week be following with keen interest the summit deliberations hoping that the leaders will come up with sound solutions to challenges affecting them.  The people need jobs, food, proper health and sanitation facilities, clean water, adequate power, telecommunications, and good roads, railways, and air links to enable them to travel feels and go about their business.  This is in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the continental blueprint Agenda 2063.       

 

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