43rd SADC Summit: Angola outlines regional priorities for 2023/24

SANF 23 no 16 – By Clarkson Mambo in Luanda, Angola

Angola now heads the Southern African Development Community from 17 August 2023, and has wasted no time in setting regional priorities to be followed in pursuit of the organisation’s integration, economic growth and development agenda.

President João Lourenço of Angola took over the rotational SADC chair from his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart, President Felix Tshisekedi at the 43rd SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Luanda, Angola.

In keeping with the SADC tradition for the past 10 years under which industrialisation has been the focus area, President Lourenço said Angola would lead the region under the theme, Human and financial capital: The key drivers for sustainable industrialisation of the SADC Region”.

High on the agenda during Angola’s tenure as chair will be training and capacitation of the region’s human resources, diversification of sources of funding for the region’s economic development programmes, gender mainstreaming and investment in infrastructure that aides the trade and the industrialisation agenda. Peace and security also remain key.

We will make strong investments in human capital as one of the main pillars for the social and economic development of our regional community,” the SADC chairperson told the summit.

“Our main challenge will be focused on empowerment and technical vocational training of our youths with a view to obtaining skills that will facilitate access to jobs and ensure that we are prepared to face the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution and digitalisation of our economies.”

On diversifying sources of finance, the Angolan leader said special attention would be paid to ensuring that all 16 Member States ratify and approve the operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund (RDF).

The fund, he said, was “an important tool for raising financial resources necessary for the implementation of our ambitious industrialisation programme and the fulfilment of the SADC integration agenda.”

At least nine member states have signed the agreement to operationalise the SADC RDF. However, none of the nine has yet deposited instruments of ratification with the SADC Secretariat.

On gender, President Lourenço said while progress had been made on empowering women, more still needed to be done to attain equity especially in highly technical areas.

“We intend to work with Member States to create mechanisms and incentives at regional level that will facilitate greater mainstreaming of gender in various sectors where figures are still concerning,” he said.

The region has also been encouraged to invest more in transport linkages such as road, and rail that promote trade and easy movement of goods and people, as well as boost power production to meet the requirements of the industrialisation drive.

The agenda is aimed at driving economic transformation through beneficiation and value addition of the region’s abundant natural resources to spur economic growth and uplift the standards of life for the over 360 million citizens.

The DRC ran its tenure as chair under the theme, “Promoting industrialization through, agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient.”

This resulted in the prioritization of several projects in the agriculture and pharmaceutical value chains as part of the implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030.

SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Magosi appealed for support in at least 20 regional projects across different value chains.               “I appeal to our international cooperation partners and the private sector to join hands with the SADC Secretariat and the Member States in the implementation of these projects so that a difference can be made in the lives of SADC citizens,” he said.

Issues of peace and security particularly targeting the eastern DRC where a number of global initiatives are underway to bring the war with rebels to an end, as well as northern Mozambique where near-normalcy has been achieved in the fight against terrorists who had taken over Cabo Delgado province will remain high on the SADC agenda.

Outgoing chairperson of the Organ on Politics Defence and Security, Dr Hage G. Geingob, the President of Namibia told summit the region largely remained peaceful and stable.

He expressed confidence that Member States holding general elections this year, starting with Zimbabwe this August, Eswatini, Madagascar and the DRC, will successfully and peacefully do so.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe was elected as SADC incoming chairperson, while Zambia took over as chairperson for the SADC Organ Troika. sardc.net

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