INCOMING Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chairperson, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique has noted the urgent need to set strategies that mitigate poverty, increase production autonomy and consolidate the competitiveness in the region.
Delivering his speech, shortly after accepting the SADC chairmanship from Tanzania's President Dr John Magufuli, President Nyusi said the region's development agenda would be attained through eliminating redundant replication of infrastructures and unnecessary competition.
"The process of integration that we want to put at the centre of our action will need to mitigate poverty. We have to push our economies towards a more interdependent, less asymmetric region that is more arraigned with development plans for each member state," President Nyusi stated.
The 40th SADC summit was held virtually for the first time in its history due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Nyusi went on outlining the importance of peace and stability in promoting development, urging for the need to strengthen cohesion, cooperation and unity among the member states.
According to the Mozambican president, the Regional Economic Community comprising 16 Member States; Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe had faced huge challenges. They include climate changes, economic and financial crisis, international organised crimes, extremism, terrorism, alongside endemic diseases such as malaria, cholera, HIV/Aids, Ebola and others.
"We must continue to be determined, resolved to turn these challenges into opportunities to strengthen our countries and above all the region," he said.
While the 39th SADC theme focused on industrialisation, the 40th theme of the ordinary summit focuses on building peace and stability.
President Nyusi noted further the need for SADC to adopt a strategy focusing on solidarity and support to promote the participation of the nation in international institutions.
He called on for more efficiency in economies to attract investments but warned for the need for each state to ensure it improves the necessary skills to implement various developmental projects.
He explained that the prospect of SADC markets in the context of globalisation lay sustainable foundations for synchronisation and harmonisation of industrialisation and infrastructure projects that will add value to the primary products and diversification of economies.
President Nyusi hailed outgoing Chair, President Magufuli for setting up the pace for the region's industrialisation, vowing to uphold the experience gained.
"We have made much progress in various domains, notably the prevalence of peace and stability in our countries and free trade area. The process of industrialisation, and upholding democratic governance values we should all be proud of," he said.
Earlier, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax underscored the urgent need for member states to improve competitiveness by addressing the supply-side constraints that include strengthening cooperation in cross border infrastructure, and deal with non-tariff barriers that remain a hindrance to the smooth flow of goods.
Dr Tax stressed on the importance of ratifying and implementing the SADC Protocol on Industry, as an important instrument for the promotion of an industrialised and globally competitive regional economy.
She made the remarks while presenting the findings of the assessment of the status of industrialisation and SADC intra-regional trade and advised member states to take appropriate direction to overcome challenges confronting the region by the outgoing chairman President John Magufuli.
Dr Tax argued while SADC integration has progressed, there is still work to be done if we are to effectively promote industrialisation, and improve economic growth in the region.
"The assessment shows that the structures of SADC economies remain undiversified with a growing dependency on natural resources and export of unprocessed commodities characterised by a stagnant industrial sector," she said.
She added that, natural resource-based sectors, including Agriculture and Mining, still account for on average 25 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"The assessment further reveals that despite some improvements in intra-SADC trade flows, the total intra-SADC trade, which stood at 19.3 per cent in 2018, is significantly less compared to other regions," she added.
The Secretariat also carried out an in-depth assessment of the socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 on SADC economies, and a report with concrete proposals across sectors was prepared. Notwithstanding the impacts of the pandemic, member states have put in place rigorous response measures.
The secretariat, thus, commended member states for the measures put in place that have gone a long way in containing the spread of the pandemic, and protecting the livelihoods of SADC citizens.
According to the Executive Secretary, SADC continued to strengthen peace and stability, as well as democracy and good governance, by conducting an assessment of emerging security threats in the region, among other things.