The SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration (DES-RI), Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo says the SADC region stands to benefit from the lessons and experiences of New Zealand, a country whose economy developed from agriculture, particularly industrialised through beef and milk production.
During the meeting with the new High Commissioner to Botswana who is also responsible for eleven other SADC Member States, Mr. Mike Burrell, Dr Mhlongo said the expertise and experience on how New Zealand developed from dairy and meat production to become one of the developed countries, is valuable for SADC Member States.
The SADC DES-RI was speaking during a meeting where he received the New Zealand Envoy to the Secretariat on 15th June 2017 who was accompanied by the Divisional Manager responsible for Middle East and African Division in the New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, Mr Stuart Horne.
Dr Mhlongo added that the meeting between SADC and New Zealand representatives came at an opportune time when SADC was due to hold its second Industrialization Week slated for 10th to 14th July 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa whose focus theme is; “Partnering with the private sector in delivering industry and regional value-chains”. SADC Industrialisation Week is an annual regional public-private engagement forum aimed at fostering new opportunities for intra-regional trade and investment.
On peace and security, Dr Mhlongo said SADC believes that without peace and security in the region, SADC’s core mandate of regional integration will not materialize, adding that SADC has been actively involved in ensuring peace and stability in some Member States including Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho among others.
Mr. Mike Burrell also appreciated the role of SADC in the area of peace and security in the region, noting the involvement of SADC Observer Mission in Lesotho as an example of important role that SADC plays. The High Commissioner said his government has a special relationship with the Kingdom of Lesotho because of the monarchical government systems the two countries adopted which he said the New Zealand would be willing to strengthen through the established SADC structures.
He said New Zealand is willing to support and collaborate with SADC on industry in the area of agro-processing and considers agriculture as a productive and competitive sector that would help the SADC region to industrialize. He further emphasized the importance of collaboration to assist SADC member states in harnessing the knowledge acquired by New Zealand to support development of agricultural value chains for supporting regional integration and economic growth, which augurs well with the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Road Map 2015-2063.
He further said SADC countries can learn from a broad-based economic growth New Zealand has experienced over the years.
The meeting agreed that New Zealand and SADC Secretariat should continue to explore areas of collaboration especially in the fields of trade, agriculture, including sanitary and phyto-sanitory as well as peace and security. New Zealand is in the process of accreditation to the SADC Secretariat.