Africa to cash in on nat­u­ral re­sources

Vuk'uzenzele - - Gejnoebrsal - Su­laiman Philip

souTh­erN aFriCaN CouN­Tries com­mit­ted to “part­ner­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor in de­vel­op­ing in­dus­try and re­gional value chains” at the re­cently held SADC Sum­mit.

The 37th South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Sum­mit ended in Tsh­wane re­cently with South Africa tak­ing over the chair of the re­gional bloc of coun­tries.

Heads of state of the 15 coun­tries in the group left the cap­i­tal after com­mit­ting to use the re­gion’s nat­u­ral re­sources to drive projects to ben­e­fit its cit­i­zens.

The new SADC chair, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, said gov­ern­ments needed to ex­plore ways to work with the pri­vate sec­tor to pro­mote sus­tain­able growth.

It was time, the pres­i­dent said, for Africa to ben­e­fit from its wealth and not watch prof­its fund devel­op­ment on other con­ti­nents. “Africa is the rich­est con­ti­nent with the poor­est peo­ple. Our her­itage and en­dow­ment must be used to drive eco­nomic devel­op­ment for the ben­e­fit of all Africa’s cit­i­zens.”

Un­der South Africa’s lead­er­ship, the group of coun­tries will pri­ori­tise in­dus­trial growth and re­gional trade. “The key ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing our chair­ship will be the devel­op­ment of a high-im­pact an­nual op­er­a­tion plan with tar­geted in­ter­ven­tions and public pol­icy tools to fos­ter the devel­op­ment of re­gional value chains in agro-pro­cess­ing, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and min­eral ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion.”

In­dus­trial devel­op­ment a pri­or­ity

In­creas­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity, pro­duc­tiv­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness in th­ese sec­tors as well as en­cour­ag­ing more in­trare­gional trade would strengthen south­ern African economies and lift them above a de­pen­dence on raw ma­te­ri­als to fuel growth. “This will not only raise the liv­ing stan­dards of our peo­ple but also fa­cil­i­tate the rapid catchup of the SADC coun­tries with in­dus­tri­alised and de­vel­oped coun­tries,” the pres­i­dent said.

The sum­mit started with all heads of state recog­nis­ing that in­dus­trial and in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment needs to be a pri­or­ity in the re­gion. Poor trans­port net­works present the big­gest chal­lenge to cre­at­ing a con­nected and pros­per­ous con­ti­nent.

South Africa will con­tinue to push for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tri­par­tite Free Trade Area. This con­ti­nent-wide com­mon mar­ket is worth $1.3 tril­lion and will al­low for the free flow of goods and peo­ple.

“Th­ese ini­tia­tives are geared to­wards cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment, im­prov­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, en­hanc­ing devel­op­ment and ad­dress­ing poverty alle­vi­a­tion in the SADC re­gion specif­i­cally.”

Mem­ber states also con­sid­ered ap­pli­ca­tions from the Union of Co­moros and Bu­rundi to join SADC. One of 75 key de­ci­sions taken by SADC min­is­ters, the Co­moros will be ad­mit­ted while Bu­rundi did not meet the cri­te­ria to be­come a mem­ber be­cause of its se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion. In line with SADC’s Si­lenc­ing the Guns ini­tia­tive, the con­ti­nent is look­ing to end all con­flicts by 2020.

As Pres­i­dent Zuma ex­plained in his clos­ing re­marks, “The heads of state and gov­ern­ment have re­it­er­ated their col­lec­tive re­solve to pro­mote peace and sta­bil­ity since this is a pre­cur­sor to eco­nomic growth and devel­op­ment.”

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma takes over the chair of the South African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity from Swazi­land’s King Mswati III.

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