43rd SADC Summit: “SADC still relevant,” – Tshisekedi

SANF 23 no 14 – By Clarkson Mambo in Luanda, Angola

The Southern African Development Community has recorded significant milestones since its establishment in 1980 and continues to explore and implement initiatives to drive integration of the region for the upliftment of lives of its citizens.

In a message to mark SADC Day, which is celebrated annually on 17 August, the outgoing SADC chairperson, President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the regional organisation “is still relevant and will remain so for a long time to come.”

Since the historic decision by the founders to establish the regional organisation, it has consistently demonstrated solidarity and unity in addressing the many challenges that the region is facing, President Tshisekedi said.

“The region has achieved a number of milestones that we should be proud of.”

Established by nine countries in Lusaka, Zambia in 1980 as the then Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC), the regional organisation transformed itself into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 1992 as the regional dynamics changed following the independence of Namibia in 1991.

SADCC was formed to advance the cause of national political liberation in southern Africa, and to reduce dependence particularly on the then apartheid-era South Africa. After achieving these goals, regional leaders agreed to transform the organisation into the SADC, with the focus now on integration for economic development, peace and security, poverty alleviation and enhancement of the standard and quality of life of the peoples of southern Africa.

From a population of 60 million and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$20 billion during the SADCC era, the organisation has grown from the initial nine to 16 member states.             SADC now boasts on a population of more than 360 million and a GDP over US$720 billion, which is anticipated to grow as the region implements its industrialisation drive.

Industrialisation is a priority for the region and necessary for integration, President Tshisekedi said.

“We have the daunting task of ensuring that the aspiration of SADC citizens for sustainable economic wellbeing, justice and freedom are met.”

Since 2014, SADC has been emphasizing the need for industrialisation which is aimed at ensuring that the region adds value to its abundant natural resources and boost the export of processed goods while limiting the import of finished goods for the benefit of the regional economy.

17 August is SADC Day and usually coincides with the date of the annual Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government.

The 43rd Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government taking place in Angola has maintained the momentum on industrialisation and is running the theme, “Human and financial capital: The key drivers for sustainable industrialisation of the SADC Region”.

The agenda to industrialise the region is supported through both the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) and the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030, a comprehensive framework for the implementation of the regional integration agenda for the next 10 years which lays into SADC Vision 2050.

Vision 2050 aims to have a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle- to high-income industrialised region where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic wellbeing, justice, and freedom.

President Tshisekedi said it is imperative to raise awareness of SADC, its role, mandate and achievements among its citizens and across the world.

To move away from perceptions that SADC is more of a political organisation, the DRC leader said the region must establish cultural activities such as “SADC Games” or pageants like “Miss SADC” that will strengthen the linkages “between our children and grandchildren across borders in a fully pacified and prosperous region.”

The achievements and milestones of SADC are presented in the SADC 40th anniversary publication launched in 2020, titled 40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration, (40 Anos da SADC: Reforçando a Cooperação e a Integração Regional; Les 40 ans de la SADC: Renforcer la coopération et l’intégration regionals).

Published by the SADC Secretariat in conjunction with the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), 40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration highlights the milestones and achievements as well as the challenges encountered by since 1980.

This is essential for raising awareness about the path that has been travelled in its quest to integrate and for pointing to the future trajectory of the Regional Economic Community as a building block for the African Union and the African Economic Community.  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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