Incoming SADC chair calls for improved economic cooperation

Incoming SADC chair, Ian Seretse Khama

Incoming chairman of the Southern African Development Community and President of Botswana, H.E. Ian Khama stressed the importance of economic cooperation at the recent 35th SADC summit in Gaborones.

Although steady progress has been realised by SADC in boosting intra-regional trade, imbalances still exist within the region as the majority of southern African countries continue to trade more with the outside world instead of among themselves. This has been attributed to various factors including poor infrastructure and imposition of non-tariff barriers by African countries. Another major factor is the lack of a vibrant industrialisation base that transforms African countries from being sources of cheap raw materials into producers of finished products. Khama said it was time southern Africa benefits from its own resources. “The current trade imbalances within the SADC region are reason enough for us to expedite and jump-start efforts towards industrial development, particularly with regard to the creation of value-chains,” Khama said. He urged the more advanced economies within the region to assist those that are least developed and small “to leverage on them (and) to also increase their productive capacities.” Such cooperation among SADC countries, he said, “will lead to jobs being created and thus reducing labour mobility and concentration in one or two economies in the region.”
SADC this year adopted an Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap to leverage on its vast natural resources endowment and ensure that the region gets maximum benefits from these to improve the livelihood of its citizens. Khama said while the strategy had “reshaped the pace and course of our region in our quest to maximize beneficiation of our natural resources as a way of creating a better life our people,” it was critical for the region to fully implement the measures proposed in the strategy to ensure the industrialization blueprint is a success.
“It is, therefore, my sincere hope that through our deliberations going forward, we will be able to come up with decisions which will guide and direct our officials towards actualising the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap,” he added.
Adopted by the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Harare in April, the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap aims at accelerating the momentum towards strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of economies of the region. It is anchored on three pillars, industrialization, competitiveness and regional integration.