WINDHOEK – Outgoing chairperson of SADC Council of Ministers Lindiwe Sisulu says for a long time regional industrial growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector, has been less impressive, and member states’ economies are insufficiently diversified.
Sisulu who is South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation made the remarks yesterday when she handed over the chair to incoming chairperson, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah who is Namibia’s International Relations Minister.
“We have, for a long time relied on very few primary commodity exports, making our member states extremely vulnerable to price shocks. It is now time, that we diversify our economies, increase participation of member states in regional value chains and promote value addition,” Sisulu noted.
She called on SADC members to collectively work towards accelerating economic integration processes that will promote specialisation and the development of regional value chains.
She said there is more work to be done on SADC industrial development initiatives.
Sisulu therefore said SADC need to prioritise trade facilitation bottlenecks such as inadequate infrastructure and customs procedures, as well as weak logistic systems which raise trade costs and hinder the ease of doing business.
According to her, transport costs and transit delays in Southern Africa are reported to be particularly higher than in most other regions, and have a potential to reverse the gains in regional industrial development.
She maintained without resource mobilisation which provides options for funding SADC programmes and agenda, member states cannot achieve envisioned objectives as outlined in the regional approved strategic blueprints.
Further, she said regional integration is not an option and, as such, member states must strive to establish sustainable funding mechanisms for the implementation of SADC programmes and projects.
She singled out that peace, security and stability are essential ingredients for sustainble economic growth, poverty alleviation, addressing inequalities and underdevelopment in the region.
She remarked the region’s democratic footprint and its prevailing positive security and political climate is undoubtedly conducive to the promotion of investment inflows into the region and contributes towards intra-regional trade and the movement of capital.
“We will, therefore, continue to guard our hard-won freedom by ensuring that member states continue to adhere to good governance, the rule of law, and ensuring that regular national democratic elections are held. We remain seized with political developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of Madagascar, in order to find lasting solutions to achieve peace and stability,” she noted.
“I am delighted that we have progressively put in place policies and institutions that will promote the adoption of technological know-how, ensuring modernisation of production systems, as well as embracing skills development, science and technology. To further realise these objectives, we will have to continue strengthening financial systems that would facilitate availability and movement of capital. Above all, we will continue to ensure that the region has well developed infrastructure to facilitate trade and the easy movement of goods and services.”
“As I hand over the Chairship to Namibia, I take comfort that my dear Sister, Honourable Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of Namibia, will continue to successfully advance the regional integration agenda.”