SADC summit opens in Zimbabwe with key focus on regional integration –Seychelles president call on member states to diversify their economies for wealth creation
Group Photo: SADC leaders attending the 34th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Zimbabwe. Seychelles President James Michel is standing third from right. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles President James Michel has called for an increase in export of manufactured products which he says is a priority for the economies of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Michel was speaking at the opening of the SADC summit of heads of state and government in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe yesterday, addressing the summit’s theme: 'SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region's Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition'.
He expressed his support for the theme while calling on SADC to ensure that it is properly reflected in its programmes and projects.
The Seychellois head of state noted that the SADC countries need to diversify their economies saying “Wealth is created through value addition".
“Africa represents only 3% of global trade. Africa is exceedingly rich in natural resources therefore we need a renewed focus on the importance of services in economic development and the possibilities for leveraging Global Value Chains to drive rapid and sustainable growth in income and employment," said Michel.
He highlighted the oceans as one source of 'vast wealth' for Africa adding that there is a huge potential for developing the Blue Economy within the infrastructure framework and policy of SADC.
"…..The diversification of our economies lies in the sustainable use of all our ocean resources...However at the heart of the Blue Economy there is sustainability. This will ensure that the natural resources and fragile ecosystems that we depend on will not be depleted and Africa will achieve economic diversity as planned in Agenda 2063," said Michel.
At the recent US-Africa summit in Washington, Michel called on the US to include the small island states of Africa in its investment programmes, and he has made a similar call at the opening of the SADC summit, calling for islands of southern Africa to be included in the SADC development programmes and not be marginalized.
Zimbabwe assumes SADC Chairmanship for one year
The 34th SADC heads of state and government summit was inaugurated by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has taken over the chairmanship of the regional organisation from Malawi.
In his address Mugabe called on SADC leaders to focus on regional integration and urged the regional body to focus on programs that can be funded from their own resources.
The Seychelles President also used his address before the summit to congratulate Mugabe on assuming the chairmanship of SADC.
He also joined other SADC leaders to welcome back Madagascar into the regional organisation now following the return to constitutional normalcy and recent democratic elections in the Indian Ocean island nation.
President James Michel at the summit (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY-NC
"I think it would be good to address the many challenges ahead, namely those of reconciliation and the socio-economic development of the country. I believe the SADC family should continue to engage with Madagascar in its post-conflict phase and especially in its reconstruction process," said Michel.
Seychelles President James Michel hosted two rounds of mediation talks together with South African President Jacob Zuma, the then Chairperson of the SADC Organ Troika, as part of the roadmap that led to the elections, including the July 2012 Desroches Process, at which the President of the transitional government Andry Rajoelina and former President Marc Ravalomanana met for urgent talks on the island of Desroches, Seychelles, to resolve the political crisis.
The Seychelles Ambassador Claude Morel also took charge of the Indian Ocean Commission’s Liaison Office in Antananarivo to support efforts to bring an end to the crisis in Madagascar, which included overseeing the election process.
The election that took place in January this year, after the two rival leaders, Ravalomanana and Rajoel agreed to step down from contesting, was won by Hery Rajaonarimanpianina, who garnered 53 percent of the votes tallied.
SADC summit ending today
The two-day SADC summit which comes to an end today will be seeing the leaders of the 15 member states address several issues with regional integration featuring high on the agenda.
The SADC Vision 2050, a new development blueprint that is expected to shape the region’s integration agenda until 2015, how to derive greater benefit from mineral resources by encouraging local processing, progress made toward enhancing economic integration and issues of migration are some of the topics that are expected to be addressed before the meeting comes to an end.
SADC has 15 member states including Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Seychelles islands joined the regional body in September 1997 but had to withdraw from the organisation in June 2003 because of financial and human resource constraints.
It’s been six years since the Indian Ocean island nation re-joined SADC, from August 17, 2008.