Malawi is ready to host the 41st SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government and has committed to pushing forward the region’s integration agenda, particularly the priority of industrialization.
Aug. 16, 2021
4 min read
Malawi commits to further drive SADC industrialisation agenda
Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eisenhower Nduwa Mkaka
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Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eisenhower Nduwa Mkaka took over as the rotational chair of the SADC Council of Ministers from Mozambique’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Verónica Dlhovo at the Council meeting held on August 13 and 14.
The meeting set the agenda for the 41st SADC Heads of State and Government Summit to be held in Lilongwe, Malawi on August 17 and 18 under the theme, “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation.”
Unlike last year’s 40th Summit hosted by Mozambique and the first in the history of SADC to be hosted in virtual format following the outbreak of COVID-19, Malawi has said this year’s Summit will be in hybrid format, with 30 percent of delegates attending physically and 70 percent participating virtually.
This is due to health measures imposed by most Member States in response to the novel coronavirus.
President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of Malawi will assume the SADC Chair from his Mozambican counterpart, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi for a period of one year until August 2022.
Malawi, which prides itself as The Warm Heart of Africa, last chaired the regional community in 2013 - 2014.
“The Government of Malawi attaches greater importance to the principles, ideals, values, goals and aspirations of our forefathers as encapsulated in the SADC Treaty,” said Mkaka.
“We are committed to continue spearheading the implementation of programmes and projects derived from the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) for 2020-2030 as guided by the SADC Vision 2050.”
The theme for this year is a continuation of the industrialization trajectory, as SADC has held its summits under the industrialization theme since the 2014 Summit held in Zimbabwe.
Mkaka said the emergence of COVID-19 requires SADC to redouble efforts in industrialisation as well as to embrace digital technologies and knowledge transfer in order “to attain these ambitious goals” which would allow the region to maximize on new market opportunities brought about by operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
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AfCFTA, which came into operation in January this year, aims to boost trade within the continent by eliminating or reducing trade restrictions among African countries as well as facilitate easier movement of people across borders to deepen integration.
Under the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), the region is targeting to double the share of manufactured goods it produces and sells to 30 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030 and to 40 percent by 2050.
“I have firm belief that SADC has got capacities and capabilities to surmount the current challenges and bounce back better and stronger on the road to regional prosperity,” said Mkaka.
The outgoing SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax lauded the leaders for being “pragmatic” in the face of COVID-19, which allowed the region to register successes in driving its agenda in the past year.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic started one and half years ago, we thought it would be a brief phenomenon, unfortunately, it is still here with us, with increasing social and economic impacts across the globe, and across sectors. This notwithstanding, the region has put in place measures to ensure business continuity and address or mitigate COVID-19 socio-economic impacts,” she said.
Hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the SADC economy contracted by 4.8 percent last year, but is expected to rebound this year as Members States have adjusted to the “new normal” with the rolling out of vaccination campaigns also assisting in fighting the pandemic.
But Dr Tax said the vaccine rollout has remained “quite low due to limited access to vaccines, insufficient vaccine infrastructure, inadequate preparation for vaccine rollout, and vaccine hesitancy.”
Under the leadership of Mozambique in the past year, SADC was running under the theme “SADC: 40 Years Building Peace and Security, Promoting Development and Resilience to Face Global Challenges.”
While the region remained largely stable and peaceful, a key ingredient for growth and development, Dr Tax said, “We have, however, witnessed pockets of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in some areas, including in the Eastern DRC and Northern Mozambique, which the region continues to address proportionately.”
Minister Dlhovo, the outgoing Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, said Mozambique had carried out a number of activities during its tenure despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including events, statutory and non-statutory meetings, the highlight of which was the Extra-Ordinary SADC Summit in Maputo in June this year, in face-to-face format.
She appreciated SADC Member States for the support in the past year and for taking bold measures such as the allocation of additional resources to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
Deployment of the SADC Standby Brigade to address the threat of terrorism in the northern Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique was singled out as one of the key decisions taken by SADC during Mozambique’s tenure.
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