His Excellency Andry Nirina Rajoelina, President of the Republic of Madagascar has called for increased investment in agriculture and industrial development to drive regional economic growth.
H.E. President Rajoelina made the call when he received a courtesy call from the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), His Excellency Mr. Elias M Magosi in Madagascar’s capital of Antananarivo on the 23rd March 2023.
H.E. President Rajoelina said the impact of the on-going Russia-Ukraine conflict on food availability, access and affordability in Africa, serves as a wake up call for the SADC region to increase investment in food production and productivity for the region to become self-sufficient, create more jobs and accelerate economic growth. On this note, the President said Madagascar intends to increase rice production by 25% to ensure national food security and surplus for the export market.
On industrial development, H.E. President Rajoelina said SADC Member States must industrialise to support value addition of products and reduce exportation of raw materials. As part of the implementation of the industrialisation agenda, the President highlighted that Madagascar is investing in the local production of cement and sugar. He added that the Government introduced the ‘One district, One factory’ programme, which is aimed at revitalising the local industry by establishing at least one factory in each of the country’s 119 districts. So far Government has established factories in 45 districts.
To support agriculture production and facilitate market access, the President said the Government is constructing a 100-kilometre pipeline for irrigation farming in the southern part of the country where the population experiences frequent water shortages. The President added that the Government is constructing the first ever highway across the Indian Ocean from Antananarivo to Tamatave in the southern part of Madagascar, to connect farmers to markets and facilitate easy movement of people, goods and services.
Regarding the upcoming Presidential elections scheduled for the 9th of November 2023, the President pledged to ensure that the elections are held peacefully. He expressed gratitude to SADC for the continued support towards the consolidation of peace, democracy and good governance in the country. SADC has supported Madagascar’s peace efforts through the SADC Mediator, His Excellency Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, whose efforts contributed to the holding of successful elections in 2018.
For his part, the Executive Secretary H.E. Magosi concurred with the President on the need to invest and modernise agriculture, noting that about 70% of the SADC population depends on agriculture for livelihoods. He highlighted that SADC has prioritised the development of agro-processing value chains in the realisation of the contribution of agriculture to regional development, and pledged SADC’s support to the development of rice value chains in Madagascar.
H.E. Magosi applauded the Government’s ‘One district, One factory’ programme, adding that, the programme is well aligned to the SADC regional industrialisation agenda, as it facilitates value addition to local products.
H.E. Magosi informed the President that, following the invitation from the Republic of Madagascar, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), supported by the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) will deploy election observers in the country consistent with SADC’s Principles and Guidelines for Governing Democratic Elections.
Prior to the meeting with H.E. President Rajoelina, the Executive Secretary met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs the previous day, Hon. Yvette Sylla to discuss strategic regional issues. Hon. Sylla is a member of the SADC Council of Ministers.
The Executive Secretary also visited the operation centre of the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) where he was briefed on the centre’s work in preparing and responding to disasters, particularly how the centre’s work assisted to minimise the impact of the recent Tropical Cyclone Freddy.
The Executive Secretary commended the Government of Madagascar for establishing the centre which is an effective model for disaster risk management through the provision of early warning, information dissemination and evacuation of the population at risk of disasters.
During the visit to the Republic of Madagascar, the Executive Secretary was accompanied by the Director of Policy, Planning and Resource Mobilisation (PPRM), Dr. Mubita Luwabelwa, the Acting Director of Politics, Defence and Security Affairs at the SADC Secretariat, Ms. Kealeboga Moruti, the French Pool Coordinator, Mr Francois Kalumba, and Mr. Innocent Mbvundula, the Communications and External Relations Officer.