Sadc to set up regional fund
SADC could soon establish a fund to drive its major development programmes and open a technical vocational education university to bolster its industrialisation trajectory.
At the 36th Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit here yesterday, newlyappointed Sadc Chair King Mswati III of Swaziland said numerous regional initiatives were stalling due to funding incapacity.
King Mswati III, who took over the rotational Sadc Chairmanship from Botswana President Lieutenant-General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, said his “energies are focused towards raising these funds”, and implored Member States to commit resources.
He also spoke on the imperatives of favourable investment conditions and regional unity.
The Summit is themed “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive Sadc Industrialisation for the Prosperity of the Region”.
It builds on the regional industrialisation agenda set by President Mugabe during his tenure as Sadc Chair (August 2014-August 2015).
Present at the Summit were Presidents Mugabe, Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Khama, Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique) and Hage Geingop (Namibia), Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili (Lesotho), African Union Commission Chair Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma and Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax.
King Mswati III said, “This (Summit) theme is derived out of the desire to see the numerous initiatives launched by Sadc over the years becoming a reality for the benefit of our peoples.
“We have reached a juncture where, as Member States, we need to show commitment to our objectives by contributing to a fund that will serve as start-up capital for our programmes and projects.
“This fund can be used as collateral as we seek to raise funding from external resources to implement infrastructure projects in the region.
“During our tenure, we intend to focus our energies towards raising the funds, which, we hope, will not only come from Member States, but also from our international partners.”
The Sadc Chair said Southern Africa should target sustainable energy to expand manufacturing capacity and guarantee inclusive industrialisation. Sadc, he said, has immense potential and should thus continue creating favourable investment conditions.
“As Heads of State and Government, we should aim to develop the region into one that offers the world a conducive investment climate that is ready to host any investor in any country of his/her choice. We need to attract industries in research, education and training, tourism and finance, among others, which can provide the much-needed job-creation, especially for our youth. . . .Africans were not born to be poor. We are very capable of becoming innovative and creating First World status for our nations. We must, however, discard the tendency of failing to support one another.”
King Mswati III also said: “The Kingdom of Swaziland wishes to dedicate the establishment of a Sadc University of Transformation which will be the next milestone in our journey which started in 1990.
“The University of Transformation will deliver in education and training terms, using the technical vocational educational training model of delivery.
“This initiative will give new hope and opportunity to youth and women. The intention is to have the first intake of students prior to the 37th Summit in 2017.”
President Khama said though Sadc faced several challenges such as drought and constricted economic growth, industrialisation was gaining momentum.
He attributed the region’s poor economic performance in 2015 to drought and falling global oil prices, among other factors.
“It is encouraging to note that efforts towards the region’s new process of industrialisation continue to gain momentum, and work on the preparation of the Industrialisation Action Plan is at an advanced stage.
“I hope that with the adoption by Council (of Sadc Ministers) at its next meeting in March 2017 with specific action towards implementation of agreed interventions will accelerate industrialisation of the region as well as prosperity and welfare of our people.”
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Mr Joey Bimha told Zimbabwean journalists that the Summit was focusing on regional industrialisation, and attempts by the Elders Group comprising Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu and Graca Machel to get Sadc leaders to “support an inclusive transition in Zimbabwe” on the back of violent opposition demonstrations were inconsequential.
Mr Bimha said: “This is not an issue we should be dealing with, really. The agenda of Sadc is decided well before the Summit by the Secretariat in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair of Sadc.
“And according to my knowledge, no such issue was ever brought before the Troika to have Zimbabwe on the agenda. It was never an issue at all.”