Windhoek – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) aspirations to industrialise, progress in regional economic integration remains mixed bag, says Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Secretary.
After experiencing robust economic growth prior to the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/09, Tax noted that economic growth in the region has slowed down, thus compromising macroeconomic convergence.
She observed that huge disparities remain in the region in terms of income, with about half of Member States having a GDP per capita below US$1,000. Inclusiveness also remains a challenge for the region.
“The structures of the economies of the region remain undiversified with a growing resource-based and stagnant manufacturing sector. In addition, the goods market in the region remains small.
“While intra-SADC trade is increasing at a slow pace, the region’s total trade with the world remains small at between 15% and 21%.
“This points to the need to intensify implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, by ensuring that all interventions in the three pillars of the Industrialisation Strategy, which aims to accelerate economic growth through technological and economic transformation, and as such enhance comparative and competitive advantage of our economies, are implemented in a synergetic manner,” Tax said.
She was speaking during the opening of the two-day SADC Council of Ministers that started in Windhoek on Friday.
Despite the challenges, industrialisation remains a key priority among other priorities, hence as SADC we will continue to establish mechanisms through which industrial development is realised, says Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of the SADC Council of Ministers, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah
Nandi-Ndaitwah, who is also the Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, said the meeting will deliberate on pertinent issues that are vital to SADC “in our pursuit of economic growth and development, peace and security, and regional integration”.
Among issues for discussion are the status of finances; implementation of Agenda 2063 in SADC; Status of Implementation of the 38th SADC Summit Theme; African Union Institutional Reforms and the Formulation of the SADC Post-2020 Agenda and Post-Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the ACP Group of States and the European Union.
Tax noted that the meeting also received a report on implementation of the 2018/19 Corporate Plan and Budget, and deliberates on the proposed plan and budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year.
In terms of progress, Tax reported that that during the nine-month period from April to December 2018, performance stood at 77% with a budget utilisation of 76%.
“Focus during the year under review remained on fostering industrialisation. A number of activities that are in line with the SADC industrialisation pillars, namely industrialisation, competitiveness, regional integration, and crosscutting issues, as well as programmes in support of industrialisation, were implemented successfully,” she said.