SADC Council of Ministers to further industrialization drive

SANF 23 no 3

The SADC industrialization drive will be at the top of the agenda when the SADC Council of Ministers meets in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo from 18-20 March 2023 to deliberate on a wide range of issues aimed at deepening regional integration.

The meeting will be held under the theme, “Promoting industrialization through agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth”, the same theme under which the 42nd Summit was held.

Ahead of the ministers meeting, the Standing Committee of Senior Officials of SADC has been meeting from 13 March, 2023, with SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Mpedi Magosi and his two deputies, Angele N’tumba who is responsible for regional integration and Ambassador Joseph André Nourrice who oversees Corporate Affairs also in attendance.

The Standing Committee of Senior officials is a technical advisory committee to the Council of Ministers and acts as a clearing house for the agenda of the Council.

Chairperson of the Standing Committee of Senior Officials, Ambassador Songhu Kayumba Donaten, who is the Secretary General for the Ministry of Regional Integration and Francophonie of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said his country, as the current SADC chairperson, continued to champion industrialization as a way of ensuring that the region improves the livelihoods of its citizens and continues to be a competitive and effective player in international trade.

He said the theme takes into account the urgent need to enhance the rollout of the SADC industrialisation and market integration programmes as contained in the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030. The SADC RISDP 2020–2030 sets out a comprehensive 10-year development agenda for addressing social, economic, political, and governance issues in the region.

The 16-member organisation has over the past seven years pursued activities aimed at rolling out the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063, which provides a framework for major economic and technological transformation at the national and regional levels within the context of deepening regional integration.

The activities include the development of value chains linked to the three priority sectors of agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals. The motive is to minimise the export of agricultural produce and minerals in raw form, and to encourage value addition which ensures the region maximises benefits from the sale of its resources which has multiplier economic benefits for its citizens.

The Council of Ministers is also expected to discuss the operationalisation of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) which is headquartered in Mozambique. SADC leaders approved the setting up of the centre at the summit held in the DRC last year.

The Centre, which was established as part of the region’s disaster risk management and resilience building efforts, will be responsible for coordinating humanitarian and emergency support to Member States affected by disasters. Its existence has become even more critical in light of the region’s recent experiences with tropical cyclone Freddy which killed about 200 people in Malawi and Mozambique.

Turning to issues of peace and security, the Council of Ministers will discuss the current situation in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In Cabo Delgado, SADC dispatched the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in June 2021 to quell violent extremism and disturbances that had resulted in the deaths and displacement of thousands of people. SAMIM has helped contain the situation which is now near normal, with some residents having returned to their homes.

In the DRC where rebel groups are fighting government forces, the United Nations is leading the intervention and SADC has also made contributions to the efforts to end the fighting through the SADC Standby Brigade.

The pursuit of peace is in line with SADC Vision 2050, which envisages “a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle-to high-income industrialised region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice, and freedom”.

Meanwhile, another key decision made at the 42nd Summit which the Council will follow up on is the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament.
The Council of Ministers is mainly made up of ministers responsible for foreign affairs and is responsible for overseeing the functioning and development of SADC, as well as ensuring that policies are effectively implemented. The Council meets twice a year – in the first quarter of the year, and just before the annual Heads of State and Government Summit which is held every August.

A communique on decisions made by the Council of Ministers will be issued at the end of the meeting.

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