Maputo — MOZAMBICAN President Armando Guebuza has taken over the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) from his Angolan counterpart, Jose Eduardo dos Santos with renewed vigour to progress the regional body´s objective of sustained regional integration and to end conflict.
The event was characterised by the ceremonial handover of the SADC chairperson´s badge to President Guebuza by his Angolan counterpart, who was represented by his Vice-President, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, at the event held at the Joachim Chissano International Conference Centre yesterday.
SADC Heads of State, including Zambia´s President Michael Sata, witnessed the handover with former Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano in their midst.
Mr Guebuza thanked his predecessor for steering the SADC over his 12-month tenure of office.
He said the SADC master plan on regional integration and infrastructure development should have a renewed focus but follow the footsteps of President Dos Santos.
"It is a great honour that I accept the chairmanship of SADC which coincides with the anniversary of our liberation struggle. It is important that we continue on a strong path of regional infrastructure development which is vital," he said.
He said the region had a corridor of hope to help empower especially small and medium-scale entrepreneurs.
He said peace and security were vital for improved regional coorperation.
He thanked other leaders for showing confidence as he takes over the management of SADC affairs.
President Dos Santos said that despite numerous challenges, it was equally possible to attain SADC´s outlined goals and ambitions.
He said regional integration and infrastructure development were still key for economic emancipation.
President Guebuza, in his welcome remarks during the official opening, said SADC was instrumental in ensuring that there was unity among people in the region and could propel interdependence among regional countries.
He said the regional organisation had the potential to resolve its own problems, adding that it was gratifying to note that SADC had recorded positive strides in the agenda of fostering peace and stability.
African Union Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who also addressed the gathering, thanked the region for backing her election.
She pledged dedication to her new office and her vision to see a united Africa which would resolve its problems.
She also called for accelerated efforts in empowering women with influential policy decision-making portfolios.
She said empowering women would help meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.
Ms Dlamini-Zuma said Africa could fight poverty by ensuring the proper use of available resources and exploring its vast mineral potential and investment in human capital, which had a mass population of youths.
She said time had come for Africa to cut international donor dependence but access it only as a supplementary effort and not as mainstay to finance growth.
Africa Development Bank president, Donald Kaberuka called for a strengthened partnership with his institution to explore Africa´s investment potential.
He said most African countries had off-shore investments but that some percentage of such investment could be injected in various businesses within Africa to record growth and fight socio-economic challenges.
"As AfDB we are ready to help African countries invest locally through bonds and we can address any technicalities but this is the time for Africa to develop," he said.