SADC should focus on industrialization

WINDHOEK: Industrialisation should take centre-stage in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s regional integration agenda, the 34th SADC summit has directed.

This summit was held at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on 17 and 18 August under the theme “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Value-Addition and Beneficiation”.

A communique issued after the summit on Tuesday mandated the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration to develop a strategy and roadmap for industrialisation in the region.

It noted progress in the review of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), and directed for the finalisation and preparation of an Implementation Plan in order to provide guidance towards the implementation of SADC programmes.

The summit also received a report from the Committee of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys-General relating to progress on negotiating a new protocol on the SADC Tribunal, and adopted the new Protocol on the SADC Tribunal.

The summit further received a report from the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration, outlining amongst others statutes in tariff phasedowns and intra-SADC trade, including a progress report on the ongoing tripartite free-trade area negotiations, and directed the expeditious completion of the Tripartite FTA negotiations in order to pave the way for the continental FTA process.

It also reviewed regional food and nutrition security, and pointed out increases in food production during the 2013-2014 growing season.

However, humanitarian assistance and malnutrition still remain a challenge.

To this end, the summit endorsed a Regional Food and Nutrition Security Strategy for 2015 to 2025 to ensure improved food availability, accessibility and utilisation in a more sustainable manner.

Delegates furthermore noted progress on the status of women’s representation in politics and decision-making, and urged member states to put in place effective legislation, policies and strategies necessary to sustain the achievements recorded so far.

There was likewise progress in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria, all of which have shown a declining trend.

On the threat posed by the Ebola disease, Member States were urged to continue putting in place measures to prevent its outbreak, and to effectively contain it in case of an outbreak in the SADC region.

The leaders then signed various instruments such as the Protocol on the Tribunal in SADC; Protocol on environmental management for sustainable development; and the Protocol on employment and labour, as well as a declaration on regional infrastructural development.