SADC leaders meet to review progress on regional integration

SANF 23 no 12 – By Clarkson Mambo in Luanda, Angola

Leaders of the Southern African Development Community meet in Luanda, Angola on 17 August, 2023 for the 43rd Summit of Heads of State and Government in which they will review progress made in the past year towards regional integration, and especially towards fast-tracking the industrialisation agenda.

Known as “the land of the giant sable” and a major oil producer in the world, Angola is a founding member of the regional organisation and last hosted the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in 2011.

The meeting will review implementation of decisions made last August at the Summit held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The SADC Summit is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of the regional community.

The host nation has proposed that the summit runs under the theme, Human and financial capital: The key drivers for sustainable industrialisation of the SADC Region”.

This continues the trajectory of the previous 10 summits after the industrialization drive was conceived in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in 2014. The agenda is driving economic transformation through beneficiation and value addition of the region’s abundant natural resources to spur economic growth and eradicate poverty.

Summit will therefore review progress on implementation of the priorities of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030, implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map 2015-2063 and progress on the implementation of the 42nd SADC Summit Theme which is “Promoting industrialization through, agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient.”

At present, most SADC member states are losing out on the benefits of the resource abundance such as minerals and forests, as they are not in a position to process them, which is being done outside the region and benefiting other economies.

The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 is therefore seeking to limit import of finished products while reducing export of raw materials through promotion of industrialisation, enhancement of competitiveness, and deepening regional integration through structural transformation, leading to increased manufactured goods and exports.

In line with the theme of the 42nd Summit, the region has prioritised projects under the RISDP 2020-2030, focusing on the development of agro-processing, minerals and pharmaceutical value chains to maximise benefits for SADC citizens.

Focus has also been directed towards provision of infrastructure that is critical for industrialization, especially energy, which has been in short supply in a number of SADC countries.

Key meetings of senior officials and the Council of Ministers have been held to lay the groundwork and prepare the agenda for the Heads of State and Government Summit.

The SADC Council of Ministers oversees the functioning and development of SADC and ensures that policies are properly implemented. It is made up of ministers from each of the 16 SADC Member States, usually from the ministries of foreign affairs, finance or economic planning.

Among the key meetings held in the past month include the 23rd Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration, the Meeting of Ministers of Finance and Investment and Governors of Central Banks, the Committee of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General and the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

The Organ Troika’s report, to be presented by President Hage G. Geingob of Namibia who is the outgoing chair, will be high on the summit agenda as it relates to strengthening peace, security and stability of the region. This is especially so in terms of efforts towards silencing the guns in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique. The report is also expected to focus on upcoming elections in the region as well as the ongoing reform process in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

At the MCO meeting which was held on 20-21 July, 2023, SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Magosi stressed that the region’s pursuit of stability is relentless, considering that the social and economic well-being of the people of southern Africa is premised on peace and security as the cornerstones of the SADC regional integration agenda.

Since the deployment of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in July 2021, steady progress has been made in combatting acts of terrorism and violent extremism in Cabo Delgado province, which has allowed displaced people to return to their homes and start rebuilding their lives.

The 43rd Summit is expected to endorse a decision made on 16 July 2023 by an Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Organ Troika, Plus SADC Troika, and Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) and SAMIM Personnel Contributing Countries to contribute additional forces in the fight against rebels in the DRC.

To be known as the SADC Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC), the mission is expected to have a more offensive role, which is different from the SADC forces that are already deployed in the DRC under the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

The summit will also get an update on SADC Member States expected to hold general elections in the second half of this year which include the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

Besides foundational issues, SADC leaders are also expected to further the harmonization of a number of policies to drive integration as well as increased financial investment and portfolio diversification to achieve regional economic stability, stimulate growth and build economic resilience.

At the Summit, the President of Angola, João Lourenço will take over the rotational chair of SADC from DRC President Felix Tshisekedi.

President Hage G. Geingob of Namibia will hand over the reins to his Zambian counterpart, Hakainde Hichilema to chair the SADC Organ Troika.

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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