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Tuesday, 09 September 2014

Southern Africa: Low trade hampers SADC integration

South Africa and Namibia's refusal to sign a trade protocol last week during the Sadc summit in Victoria Falls clearly underlined the regional grouping is still far from achieving its main goals of economic and political integration, which were the major reasons for its transformation from a conference into a community of nations 22 years ago.

The protocol is aimed at improving trade and infrastructure development among member states.

Initially established as the Southern African Co-ordination Conference (Sadcc) in 1980 to foster greater economic co-operation among member states and reduce dependence on the-then apartheid regime of South Africa, as well as to assist liberation movements in that country and Namibia, Sadcc was transformed into the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) whose major focus is achieving political and economic integration.

However, like previous summits, the 34th heads of state meeting in Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls, which was held under the theme Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region's Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Value Addition and Beneficiation, did not move any closer towards economic integration after the two countries requested more time to study the protocol before appending their signatures.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is the new Sadc chairperson, was justifiably peeved when he told journalists after officially closing the summit that South Africa should help in the industrialisation of the region rather than turn other countries into mere consumers of its products.

Source: allafrica.com