PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has challenged SADC region to re-position itself in the global economy and become drivers of economic prosperity for the benefit of its people.
President Lungu said now was the time to undertake reforms to create the necessary environment that would spur the structural and economic transformation of the region through increased participation of the private sector.
In a maiden speech to the SADC extraordinary summit on Industrialisation in Harare yesterday, Mr Lungu said it was time for the region to set the stage right by putting measures in place that would encourage and support the development of appropriate industries.
“It is necessary that we take our destiny in our own hands and ensure that we determine how our abundant natural resources should be exploited and processed into finished products,” he said.
President Lungu said the immediate task would be to undertake a comprehensive mapping of the region’s diverse resources to identify where each member State could have the greatest success in capturing high value opportunities for value addition based on their key strengths and capabilities.
He said appropriate infrastructure was critical for boosting the region’s productive capacity and enhancing global competitiveness as the SADC region trades with the rest of the world.
He challenged member States to start thinking regional rather than as individual countries in their quest to enhance global competitiveness.
“Effective implementation of the SADC industrialisation strategy and roadmap is therefore critical,” President Lungu said.
He said the implementation of the roadmap should be properly sequenced and aligned to ensure that intervention at the regional level were in support of the national programmes and initiatives.
He said respective governments and the SADC would have to work out mechanisms to ensure that regional objectives were achieved.
On tripartite and continental Free Trade Area (FTA), the region should focus on building capacity based on enhanced productivity.
Meanwhile the heads of State and Government have approved the SADC industrialisation strategy and roadmap which was developed through a consultative process involving stakeholders.
The strategy seeks to foster economic growth and advancement at national and regional levels through value addition and beneficiation of abundant materials in the region.
Reading the communiqué, SADC executive Secretary Stergomena Tax said the heads of States allowed South African President Jacob Zuma to also give a brief on the xenophobia attacks in that country.
Dr Tax said Mr Zuma briefed the meeting on the interventions that his country had put in place to end the inhuman treatment of foreigners.
Meanwhile, responding to questions from journalists after reading of the communiqué, President Mugabe said no collective decision on the xenophobia attacks in South Africa had been made by the heads of States.
He, however, confirmed that the South African Government had embarked on sensitisation programmes educating its own people on how to deal with foreigners.