Countries in the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC),seek to review and adopt policies to accelerate economic growth having realised the untapped mineral potential.
The 34th Heads of States and Government Summit which goes underway in Zimbabwe’s tourism capital, Victoria Falls from August 17-18 want to review policies to bolster growth.
The meeting plans to strategise and boost the mineral wealth in the region to salvage ‘limping’ economies in the region-riddled with among other challenges-huge external debts as a means of Deepening Regional Integration.
According to reports, SADC leaders are cognizant of the regional bloc’s vast natural resources which has remained untapped for years.
The region is home to among other minerals, diamonds, gold, Vanadium and platinum. It is estimated that about half of the world’s vanadium, platinum, and diamonds, coal, among other minerals, originate in the region, along with an estimated 36 percent of gold and 20 percent of cobalt
This comes after SADC realized that despite the regional grouping having growth potential it remains impoverished.
SADC executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax after a meeting with President Mugabe, of Zimbabwe, noted that in line with the theme for this year; ‘SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation; there will is need to leverage the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development.
“It is envisaged this will be done by including ‘Beneficiation and Value Addition’. Efforts will be made to prioritise beneficiation and value addition in SADC’s economic strategies and programs during the tenure of Zimbabwe as chair of SADC and thereafter,” Tax said.
Member states are seeking to integrate by 2018 and develop a common single market-devoid of various trade and man-made-bureaucratic barriers that have hampered the region’s potential to grow as espoused at SADC’s inception in the early 1980s.
The meeting will also seek to review the 15-year-old strategic Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) to align the region with global developments.
It will see the incumbent SADC chairperson and Malawian President-Professor Peter Mutharika, Joyce Banda’s the successor, pass over the mantle to Zimbabwean leader-Mugabe.
Other key issues will include reviewing the regional charter, approved by SADC leaders in 2003 as a blueprint for regional integration and development. The plan has in recent years been under review as part of SADC’s efforts to realign the region’s development agenda in line with new realities and emerging global dynamics.
The first review was done in 2010 as a desk assessment by the SADC Secretariat, followed by an independent mid-term review in 2013. Another assessment was done by a multi-stakeholder task force as directed by the 2013 SADC Summit held in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The review process is now complete, and the new blueprint is expected to be presented to regional leaders for approval.
Once adopted, the plan will provide the impetus for deeper integration among SADC Member States, according to a report submitted to President Mugabe by SADC’s Executive Secretary Tax.
Other issues high on the agenda include the review and adoption by SADC leaders the political and socio-economic situation in the region and further review the global economic situation and general performance of the SADC economy.
With many countries seeking to diversify from mono-economies-SADC leaders are keen to relook at developing the agricultural sector to drive their economies with minerals being wasting assets
This year’s summit is being held in conformity with the African Union declaring the “Year of Agriculture and Food Security.” Leaders are expected to encourage members to speed up the implementation of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
CAADP is a continent-wide programme formulated in 2003 by the AU to encourage countries to reach a higher path of economic growth through agriculture-led development. African governments had made a commitment to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to the agricultural sector each year.
Tax was appointed new SADC head by the SADC leaders at last year’s annual summit in Malawi to replace Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão.