President John Magufuli’s pledge to steer the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to accelerated growth is encouraging. It comes at a time when there are growing calls for Sadc member states to find permanent solutions to trade barriers bedevilling regional growth.
The Tanzanian head of state assumed the Sadc chairmanship yesterday with another pledge that under his leadership, the 16 nation bloc would strive to ensure the region fully utilised its resource potentials to spur economic growth and development.
Established in 1992, Sadc is committed to regional integration and poverty eradication through economic development – while ensuring peace and securityin the region. But to achieve this, leadership is key.
This is why when all is said and done, it behooves President Magufuli as Sadc chairman to spearhead functional efforts at effectively tackling and surmounting the hurdles, barriers, impediments, obstacles and other challenges which are in the way forward for Sadc as an institution – and for individual member nations within the bloc.
One of the challenges he has to immediately tackle as the regional bloc seeks to industrialise is the lack of enough project funds. Funds shortage invariably stalls socio-economic development projects in Sadc.
A report compiled by the Southern Africa Research and Documentation Centre (Sardc) stated that “only five per cent of the 134 short-term regional infrastructure projects (in Sadc) have been implemented.
Ninety-eight of the projects, valued at $64.32 billion (roughly Sh147.9 trillion) were earmarked for implementation during the short-term period of 2012-2017.
Oh, there is a lot more in the study reports that sound like rubbing salt into a wound... Such as that implementation of 95 per cent of the projects is behind schedule, despite the fact that “97 per cent of the reviewed projects are described by (Sadc) member states as being of ‘high priority’ – whereby 94 per cent are ‘incorporated in national development plans.’”
Not only that. The cost of doing business also remains high in the region, a situation often blamed on bureaucracy and a host of barriers by the regulatory authorities.
But in a rather hard-hitting stance, President Magufuli challenged the Gaberone-based secretariat of the regional body to do its work well. He said the secretariat had not done much as the trade, economic growth and investment statistics within the region showed no or little improvement.
Treat causes, not symptoms
The studies categorically aver that behind these woes are the singular “lack of sufficient funds among member states and development partners; donor overdependence; discordance in regional and national priorities; as well as low private sector participation.
Now that we know the actual causes of the patchy socio-economic development within the Sadc bloc – especially infrastructural and industrial development – we must switch from ‘treating’ the symptoms to eradicating the underlying causes root and branch.
To that end, we wish the new Sadc chairman ‘HapaKaziTu!’ Godspeed...