Southern Africa: SADC Summit 2019 - AfDB Injects Sh30tr in SADC Countries

Dar es Salaam — The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group current investments in the Southern and African Development Community (Sadc) stands at almost $13 billion (about Sh29.9 trillion).

The investment is in line with wider efforts to bolster investments and eventually intra-trade in the 16 nation bloc, which now stands at below 20 per cent.

The revelation was made yesterday by the lender's president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, during the Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit that started yesterday and will continue today as well.

"The bank is there to strongly support the region's heads of state and government drive for more rapid economic development of the region," noted Dr Adesina.

Since 2015, he said, they opened regional offices in the five regions: West, East, Central, North and Southern Africa.

"We are getting much closer to countries. We now have 41 country offices, including the one in Tanzania," said Dr Adesina.

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He said the Bank has continued to deliver great value for the Sadc region.

"Your investment in the bank pays off very well. For every dollar of paid in capital by the region, it received about $19 in investments," said Dr Adesina.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) said industrialisation is a key in job creation and prosperity for people, youth and women in particular.

It on these grounds, its executive secretary Vera Songwe urged the member states, which have not yet ratified the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), to do so.

This, according to her, was meant to ensure all member states enjoyd more than the more than 1.2 billion people market, which can create more jobs,

"Prosperity is within our reach. We know we can do it and that is why we are doing all it takes to ensure this integration is there to stay," said Ms Songwe.

"We cannot do integration, nor benefit from CFTA, if we do not have the conducive environments which ensure that our economies are competitive."

Industrialisation

Giving her introductory remarks, Sadc executive secretary Stergomena Tax said industrialisation remains the top most priority of the economic bloc.

She said, for the dream of industrialisation to be realised, these effective priorities should be set, which requires effective partnership between public and private sectors.

The private sector, Dr Tax said, is the engine of development as it creates employment and help to uplift the living standard of people, undertake economic production and contribute to government revenue.

"For the private sector drive the industrialisaton agenda, it needs to be competitive, adaptive and planned into regional and global chain," suggested Dr Tax.

This, she added, requires knowledge based capability, appropriate skills and technology, infrastructure to leverage industrialisation, as well regional and national policies to support private sector development ad effective functioning.

Manufacturing

Dr Tax said the growth of the industry remained slow at 4.3 per cent in 2018 compared to 4.6 in the previous year.

The share of the sector's value added to overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Sadc region stood at 19.9 per cent last year, slightly higher compared to 11.2 per cent in 2017, according to her.

"This is a matter of concern considering that we are far from attaining the target that we set for ourselves," she alarmed.

Sadc region committed to increase the share of manufacturing value added in GDP to 20 per cent by next year.

"But only left with a few months before 2020, we are still at 11 per cent. We therefore need to intensify efforts if we are to reach the target and indeed if we are to industrialise," observed Dr Tax.

Given the slow growth of the manufacturing sector, intra-Sadc trade remained low.

Intra-Sadc import declined from 21 per cent in 2016/17 to 20.6 per cent in 2017/18.

Under the period of review, intra-Sadc exports declined from 24 per cent to 22.4 per cent.

"We need to double efforts by keeping on promoting macroeconomic stability consolidation in the region," suggested Dr Tax.

This will be possible through giving more space and policy priority to private sector, addressing energy deficit and bridging infrastructure deficit gap.

The move is pivotal in enhancing productivity and ease costs of doing business. "This is essential to win business confidence and ensure predictability of our economies," said Dr Tax.

Economy

Dr Tax said the region's macroeconomic position remains critical for the realisation of the set goal, saying the general economic environments have been relative stable last year. Economic growth averaged at 3.1 per cent last year compared to three per cent a year before, according to her.

Botswana, DR Congo, Madagascar and Tanzania observed strengthened economic growth and only Tanzania made the GDP growth of seven per cent in during the period under review.

Per capital GDP

The per capital GDP for the region improved slightly to $4,171 last year compared to $4,004 a year back. There was an improvement from only Botswana, DR Congo, Mauritius, Tanzania and Seychelles.

However, Uneca says the growth was not inclusive, saying in some countries 17 per cent of the population is still under the poverty line.

"Even as we celebrate increases in per capital GDP in some countries, 10 of the most unequal countries in the world are in Africa," Uneca's boss, Ms Songwe said.

"And of the number, seven are in the Sadc region, suggesting that we are not delivering equality."

This inequality was attributed to poor competition policies, education policies. On competition policies, it is crucial that a linkage between trade, intellectual properties and investments is put into consideration.

"We must stop creating unequal society and mend the way we are creating and generating the growth, to ensure it is not only the growth that favors some people." Said Ms Songwe.

In so doing, the Sadc region, whose economic growth is less than four per cent against seven per cent promised to be recorded by 2020, would improve its performance.

"We need to do more, better and faster, to ensure people stay out of poverty," she said.

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