The Executive Secretary of SADC, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has urged the Region’s private sector, through the SADC Business Council, to enhance manufacturing capabilities through building a strong portfolio in pharmaceuticals and prioritising industrialisation.
H.E Dr Tax said this during a virtual meeting with the Chairperson of SADC Business Council, Mr. Eduardo Sengo, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Mr Peter Varndell, on 19 February 2021. The SADC Business Council is an umbrella body for the private sector comprising national apex bodies of the private sectors of each of the 16 SADC Member States.
The objective of the meeting was to discuss operationalisation of the Business Council and progress on activities in support of SADC industrialisation and regional integration agenda.
Dr Tax said dialogue would result in huge progress in the operations of the Business Council and called upon the parties to concretise the partnership between the private and public sectors, effectively operationalise the Council and build a strong network linkage with its affiliates.
She said that the specific objectives of the constitution of the Business Council will be guided and aligned to what is contained in the SADC Treaty, including other statutory documents such as the legal instruments, the SADC Vision 2050 and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-30.
Mr Sengo thanked the SADC Secretariat for the good work in supporting the SADC Business Council. He said the Council was poised to adopt a private agenda for the Region which will ensure that all private members/associations, and chambers of commerce can influence and advocate for discussions which will enhance their mandate.
He said that this will help Member States to deliberate on pertinent topics such as the free trade zones and industrialisation agenda, including removal of trade barriers. Mr Sengo advocated for more engagement and dialogue with the political leadership to help the business world to eliminate business barriers, and for implementing conducive legal instruments which will support the transformation of the economies of the Region.
The meeting also discussed the status of preparations for the SADC Industrialisation Week, which the two parties jointly host annually, bringing together the public and private sectors, International Cooperating Partners (ICPs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and policy makers in the Region to forge wider understanding of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2020-2030, and facilitate its implementation. The SADC Industrialisation Week is scheduled to take place in Maputo, Republic of Mozambique in May or Juned 2021 and Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi in August 2021.
Mr. Varndell thanked the SADC Secretariat, through the leadership of Dr Tax, for the cordial engagement and cooperation accorded the Business Council. He updated the meeting on operations of the Council and stated that the drafting of the rules of engagement between the two parties had been finalised and was waiting for input from the SADC Secretariat.
He said that the Council had been involved in core activities relating to its daily operationalisation of and implementation of projects and other various activities. He stated that the Council was in a good position to commence implementation of recommendations put forward on its five-year strategy. On Non-Tariff Barriers, Mr Varndell stated that a huge amount of work has been ongoing to facilitate SADC Member States through workshops on pharmaceuticals and transport/logistics including preparation of terms of reference for a regional trade and transport working group.
The SADC Executive Secretary, H.E. Dr. Tax thanked the SADC Business Council leadership for the continued cooperation and dedication to the SADC integration agenda.