2024 – An opportunity for SADC to accelerate industrialisation

SANF24 no 01 – By Clarkson Mambo

The year 2024 presents an opportunity for SADC to accelerate progress towards the attainment of an “inclusive, competitive, middle-to-high-income industrialized region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic wellbeing, justice and freedom in a secure environment.”

This aspiration is contained in SADC Vision 2050, and is supported by the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030, which are the guiding blueprints for regional growth and development.

The new year affords regional leaders a chance to fast-track the implementation of the industrialisation drive, a vital aspect of the regional development agenda, adopted 10 years ago.

The SADC Secretariat, led by the Executive Secretary, H.E Elias Magosi remains the engine for the regional integration agenda, requiring support from Member States and all stakeholders.

The Secretariat continues to take a leading role in resource mobilization efforts to fund various projects and initiatives in support of the growth and development agenda.

In 2023, the region took firm steps and actions in its continued recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which are still lingering, and the new year affords SADC an opportunity to continue on its recovery path toward the delivery of results in the priority areas of industrialisation, peace and security, trade, food security and climate change, infrastructure development and health.

Industrialisation has been at the core of regional development for the past decade since the 34th SADC Summit held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in August 2014. A special summit on industrialisation during Zimbabwe’s presidency led to the adoption of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.

Developed as an inclusive long-term plan for modernisation and economic transformation, the results should enable substantive and sustained economic development to raise the living standards for more than 390 million inhabitants of the region. The strategy aims to accelerate the momentum towards strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of the economies of the region.

The plan to industrialise the region emerged from the realization that SADC can propel its own development if member states collaborate to achieve maximum earnings from their vast natural resource endowments.

Very few SADC member states are yet in a position to process their raw materials, due to the legacy of skewed colonial development, with the value addition taking place elsewhere. This is not only creating employment outside the region, but also keeping profits outside to the disadvantage of the inhabitants of the region.

“Our peoples have the rights to better enjoy their wealth and have a high standard of living,” said the current SADC chairperson, João Lourenço, who is the President of Angola.

Through industrialisation, the region is targeting to increase manufactured exports to at least 50 percent of total exports by the year 2030, from less than 20 percent at present. The aim is also to grow the regional Gross Domestic Product to seven percent annually from the current rate of around four percent.

The initiative is expected to create more job opportunities, especially for the youth and improve the region’s average unemployment rate which has fluctuated between 10.2 percent and 11.3 percent between 2009 and 2020.

“The exportation of non-processed minerals should be stopped now,” said H.E Magosi when commenting on industrialization.

“We must make sure that when we export anything related to our minerals it is in a finished form because when that happens jobs are created, the economy thrives and money is spent here.”

Since 2014, various member states that have held the annual rotational leadership of SADC have planned with a theme that focused on industrialisation.

Significant progress has been made over the years in developing complementary policies and programmes as well as the implementation of projects to support industrialisation.

With Zimbabwe, where it all started, set to become the chair of SADC again at the 44th Ordinary Summit in August this year, the region has the opportunity to look back on how far it has come, and what needs to be done to fast-track the industrialisation agenda and fine tune it if necessary.

On 25 October, the region will again stand united in its call for the unconditional lifting of western sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. The embargo, which has been in place for more than two decades, not only affects the targeted country but extends a negative impact to the rest of the region.

Turning to peace and security, a critical pillar for regional growth and development, the region remains largely peaceful and stable and will be expected to remain seized with the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and northern Mozambique.

In December 2023, SADC took the additional step of deploying a dedicated SADC Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC) to help to address the deteriorating security situation in that country. In northern Mozambique, the situation has improved dramatically thanks to the SADC Mission in Mozambique.

Four SADC member states (Botswana, Mauritius, Mozambique and South Africa) are holding general elections this year. It is expected that all of these polls will be aligned with regional standards and guidelines, observing the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections which aim to produce clear and credible poll results.

Another matter of importance for the region this year will be preparedness to deal with climate-change-induced disasters. Weather experts have warned of the possibility of parts of the region being affected by several tropical cyclones in 2024.

The SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre, launched in 2021 and located in Nampula, Mozambique, is expected to play a lead role in addressing the region’s disaster-preparedness and resilience-building to address the impact of recurring natural disasters.

Concerning food security, there is a likelihood of improved food security as weather experts indicated that the region will likely receive normal to above-normal rains in the second half of the 2023/24 rainfall season from January to March, despite low rainfall in the first half of the season. sardc.net

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.      Email: sanf@sardc.net     

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