SOUTHERN African Development Community (Sadc) executive secretary, Mr Elias Magosi, has called for enhanced positive exploitation of key value chains such as agro-processing and mineral beneficiation, stressing that “the region cannot progress without industrialisation”.
As the bloc focuses on development of key infrastructural projects that drive regional integration as outlined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030, Mr Magosi says robust industrialisation must take centre stage if the region is to achieve desired economic integration.
Speaking during a courtesy call on him by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group senior vice president, Ms Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala, on the sidelines of the recent meeting of the Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment and Peer Review Panel, held in Lilongwe, Malawi, Mr Magosi said infrastructure development and industrialisation were key components towards Sadc regional integration.
“Development of infrastructure projects such as roads, railway lines, information communication technology, among others, are inevitable ingredients to facilitate seamless movement of people, goods and services in order to bring the desired developmental impact,” he was quoted as saying in a post meeting brief shared on the Sadc official website.
“On mineral beneficiation, Mr Magosi outlined that the region is awash with mineral wealth and raw materials, which if processed within the region and sold as finished goods, could create the necessary jobs as opposed to the current situation whereby minerals and other raw materials leave the region in raw form, only to return to the region as expensive finished goods.”
Guided by the National Development Strategy (NDS1), Zimbabwe under the Second Republic is already implementing measures to revamp its industries through embracing modern technology, infrastructure development and growing exports, which contribute to employment creation and improved livelihoods.
On agro-processing, Mr Magosi said the time has come for the Sadc region to support subsistence farmers with infrastructure and resources to enable them to improve agricultural productivity.
He stated that the sector has enormous potential not only to create employment but also to create successful entrepreneurs, further noting that a majority of Sadc citizens depend on agriculture for livelihoods.
On pharmaceuticals, the Sadc executive secretary highlighted that experiences learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic have emphasised the need for the region to invest more in manufacturing of vaccines to ensure adequate supply in the hour of need to reduce dependence on external support.
In her remarks, Ms Swazi Tshabalala concurred with Mr Magosi that without infrastructure development, there can never be regional integration.
She observed, in particular, that it still takes a long time to transport goods across the region as opposed to transporting the same goods outside the region.
Ms Swazi Tshabalala called for standardised rules to ensure that trade is seamless, with bottlenecks removed to improve transport and transit facilitation measures.
“Industrialisation is key and must be built around the private sector as partners in the implementation of the Sadc industrialisation agenda,” she said.
The AfDB senior vice president further recognised the value of empowering small-scale farmers by availing the necessary infrastructure saying this was one of the areas of potential support by the regional bank.
Making reference to the AfDB’s “High 5s” initiative, which are ‘light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialise Africa, integrate Africa; and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa’, which are similar to Sadc priorities, Ms Swazi Tshabalala said these will become the core of the new 10-year bank strategy following the end of the 2013-2022 bank strategy.
The two leaders also discussed modalities for mobilising resources for sustainably financing Sadc infrastructure programmes in support of regional integration, and reiterated their commitment to enhance the existing partnership and collaboration between the two institutions.