Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa says the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has a lot of successes to be proud about and that the region must not shy away from celebrating its collective achievements inspired by its common history.
The former President said this during his keynote address at the SADC Public Lecture on ‘Deepening Integration in SADC: Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities’ held on 15thAugust, 2019 at the Library Auditorium of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Lecture, which was jointly organised by the SADC Secretariat, Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, UONGOZI Institute and the University of Dar es Salaam, to stimulate discussion on regional integration ahead of the 39th SADC Summit ahead of the 39thSADC Summit hosted in Dar es Salaam, highlighted SADC’s key achievements, challenges hindering the deepening of integration in SADC, and ways to overcome them, among others.
H.E Mkapa called on the SADC governments to seek smart partnerships with the private sector and increase the region’s productivity in the manufacturing and labour sectors, especially in the agro-industry and processing sectors. He added that “with the right policies and incentives, we can establish our countries as attractive destinations for win–win investment alliances”.
H.E Mkapa, who was President of Tanzania from 1995 to 2005, and chaired SADC in 2003/04, said investment in education and infrastructure development, as well as curbing the illicit financial flows out of Africa, is critical in ensuring that SADC achieves its longstanding vision of a united, integrated and prosperous region.
He highlighted that the SADC region has the capacity to be self-sufficient through its natural resources as well as a vibrant and skilled human capital. “We are endowed with vast natural resources that offer vast potential for unleashing growth and development for our region, however, it is critical for SADC to come up with new and innovative strategies to ensure that it adds value to its resources before exporting and ensure that the resources bring tangible benefit to our people and countries,” the former President said.
Dr. Simba Makoni, a former Executive Secretary of SADC, who was one of the panelists at the Lecture, said SADC must use its abundant natural resources properly, and accelerate the pace towards industrialization and aim towards being self-reliant.
Dr. Makoni expressed that self-reliance is pivotal not only for the governments and government institutions but also for the people.
Prof. Anthoni van Nieuwkerk, a Security Studies Coordinator at the Wits School of Governance in South Africa, emphasized the importance of peace and security towards a more prosperous integration. “Indeed, the African Union and SADC have developed sophisticated policy frameworks and strategies to deal with democracy promotion and threats to security, such as African Peace Security Architecture (APSA), the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO),” noted Prof. Nieuwkerk.
Mr. Gilead Teri, Program Lead for Tanzania Investment Climate, World Bank Group in Tanzania, said that in order to enable the private sector to fulfil its integration role, four key aspects needed to be addressed: Infrastructure, Skills/Quality of Employment, Finance, and Fairness.
Mr. Teri added that in order for the region to fund its development projects and provide credit and soft loans for businesses, it must move away from relying heavily on Foreign Direct Investment, and improve domestic saving mechanisms as well as the quality of labour to match the demand of the private sector.
In her opening remarks to the Public Lecture, the SADC Executive Secretary, H.E. Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, called upon all regional stakeholders to rededicate their efforts to SADC and to the ideals of regional body’s founders. “Together we can facilitate SADC integration, unity and shared values for the prosperity and lasting peace for the region,” she said.
Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, cited the region’s identification of potential value chains which have a specific focus on a combination of how individual and regional strengths can be leveraged for optimal benefits from both regional and global value chains as one of SADC’s Key success, and added that “this approach specifically allows us to profile the sectors in each country and develop the strategies for value addition, beneficiation and down-stream processing. It also allows us to have a vested interest in promoting investment in regional projects, as we are able to reap the collective benefits for all the people in our region”.
Commenting on the region’s commitment to gender equality, Hon. Nandi-Ndaitwah said that while the SADC has made good progress in the area of women empowerment, thereby enabling women to play a role both in the political and economic field, gender equality was not fully realized. She urged the SADC governments to have more programmes focusing on women and the youth as they continue to harmonise legislative and policy frameworks, to create opportunities for citizens and create an environment that enables easier transactions and facilitates intraregional investment.