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Youth in SADC face disproportionate challenges

Youth in SADC face disproportionate challenges

Staff Reporter
DESPITE challenges from global uncertainties of the commodity markets, international trade strife, food insecurity and natural disasters, member states of the Southern African Development Community recorded significant achievements.
Before handing over the role of Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community to the Tanzanian Head of State, President Hage Geingob reflected on his year in the chairs and said the region boasts an active young population, thereby presenting opportunities for the fortunes of the region to be drastically transformed into greater economic growth and prosperity.
“While the youth actively contribute as political actors, innovators, entrepreneurs and peace builders, they continue to face disproportionate social, economic and political barriers, which prevent them from unleashing their full potential and meaningfully contributing to sustainable development,” Dr. Geingob said.
He said that unemployment, underemployment, lack of skills and access to capital result in youth experiencing social and political challenges such as conscription into armed rebellions and exposure to drug use and risky behaviour.
“Additionally, our youth continue to migrate within the continent as well as abroad in search of greener pastures, making them vulnerable to exploitation, extreme abuse and mistreatment among other things.”
Dr. Geingob stated that the SADC’s mission should be the deliberate and coordinated efforts to accelerate social development that prioritises youth development and empowerment as well as enhancing youth participation in policy formulation, and to develop programmes in areas that affect the lives of young people in the entire SADC region.
After opening the 39th ordinary summit of the SADC President Geingob handed the role of Chairperson to the organisation to the President John Joseph Pombe Magufuli.
“I believe that given his wisdom and dedication to the acceleration of development and welfare of the citizens of our region and continent, he will advance our regional integration agenda to higher heights. It gives me great pleasure to pass the baton to the Incoming Chairperson.”

 

President Geingob’s Full speech at the summit reads as follows:

It is a great privilege for me to welcome you to this 39th Ordinary Summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government in the United Republic of Tanzania. Let me express my gratitude to my counterpart, His Excellency,
President Dr. John Joseph Pombe Magufuli and the people of the United Republic of Tanzania for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to all of us since our arrival. We are gathered here in this historic city of Dar Es Salaam, which was not only home, but actual sanctuary to many of us who sought to escape the brutality of apartheid colonialism. The teachings of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere continue to inspire us. He not only believed in the inalienable right of every African person, but together with the heroic people of the United Republic of Tanzania, he walked the talk.
Mwalimu, together with the Founders of SADCC, had a clear vision that only the full realisation of the right to self-determination would pave the way to effective regional integration.
Allow me to express my gratitude, Your Excellencies, for the support you accorded to me as Chairperson of SADC and to Namibia, since we assumed the Chair of SADC in August 2018, in Windhoek. It has been an honour to work with you all in advancing the cause of Regional Integration, in order to better the lives of our people.
In our quest to entrench democratic values and constitutionality in our region, six Member States, namely, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Madagascar, the Union of Comoros, and the Republic of Malawi and Republic of South Africa held successful elections since the last Summit.
Allow me to congratulate the Governments and the people of these Member States for holding credible and peaceful elections, and for upholding SADC democratic principles. For the first time since independence, we have witnessed a peaceful transfer of power in the DRC, marking a new era for socioeconomic prosperity, peace, and political stability for the country. Indeed, democracy has continued to mature in our region, as demonstrated by the fact that a number of Heads of State are attending this 39th Ordinary Summit, for the first time following the successful elections in their countries. Join me in congratulating Their Excellencies Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC, Andry Rajoelina of the Republic of Madagascar, Prof. Perter Mutharika of Malawi; Azali Assoumani of the Union of the Comoros, and Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa. In SADC, we shall always be a family characterized by common values, a common destiny for a common people, emerging from a common history. To this end, we are encouraged by the recent signing of the Peace Accord in the Republic of Mozambique, a further demonstration that SADC places a high premium on peace and stability as a precursor for development in region.
The year 2018/19 marked the fourth year of the implementation of the SADC’s Revised Regional
Indicative Strategic Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 since its adoption by the SADC Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in April 2015. Although the year was marked by challenges, resulting from global uncertainties of the commodity markets, trade tensions, food insecurity and natural calamities, our region recorded some significant achievements towards the attainment of regional commitments.
Climate Change is real and our region can attest to this fact. Between January and April 2019, the region faced several weather related phenomenon, namely, Tropical Cyclone Desmond, Enawo, Idai and Kenneth. As a result of these events, we witnessed extensive flooding in Comoros, Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Heavy rains also affected Kwazulu Natal, in South Africa.
The Cyclones killed over 1,000 people; injured an estimated 3,000 people, damaged economic infrastructure, education and health facilities and destroyed over 800,000 hectares of cropland as well as crops and seed stocks. Over 3.3 million people were affected and required immediate humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter, clothing, potable water, sanitation and medical support.
In addition, below average rainfall and prolonged dry spells resulted in reduced agricultural production, thus negatively affected pasture and livestock, as well as water supply for human, and other uses. Member States affected by severe drought conditions include Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. In the meantime, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia have declared States of Emergency and have started implementing response plans.
In response to these national disasters, the following measures were undertaken:
i. Contingency funds amounting to US$500,000 were released towards emergency relief efforts of Tropical Cyclone Idai to complement efforts by Member States, national and international partners;
ii. A Regional Floods Appeal was launched in response to Tropical Cyclone Idai which sought US$323 million to support victims with immediate needs and resilience building actions;
iii. Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) was conducted in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe for reconstruction and rebuilding following the Tropical Cyclone Idai.
I wish to express sincere appreciation to SADC Member States for their prompt, effective and generous response in providing humanitarian assistance to the affected countries.
Disaster risk reduction should be a regional priority, as it is clear that natural disasters can have a significant negative impact on our economies and people. This therefore calls for deliberate measures to address the impacts of climate change, while also mainstreaming the Disaster Risk Reduction at both the regional and national levels. Disaster Risk Reduction strategies contribute to the decrease of disaster risks and the negative impacts of disasters in order to attain sustainable development and eradicate poverty. The following are some of the measures which are to be considered as part of the mitigation of the impacts of climate change and risk reduction:
i. Pursuing sustainable development, by among others reducing deforesting, and encouraging reforestation to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
ii. Drawing lessons from the previous disasters to strengthen the regional preparedness and response mechanisms, and early warning.
iii. Putting in place measures to ensure timely response and provision of humanitarian assistance and restoration of livelihoods to the affected communities;
iv. Raising awareness in the region on how to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The region boasts an active young population where two-thirds of its citizens are below the age of 35 years, thereby presenting opportunities for the fortunes of the region to be drastically transformed into greater economic growth and prosperity. Hence, 38th SADC Theme on Promoting Infrastructure Development And Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development was the focus of a number of programmes and activities across all sectors in 2018/19, with emphasis on youth engagement. The Theme also gave impetus for the full implementation of the SADC Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment adopted by Heads of State and Government in August 2015. Some of the key initiatives implemented to operationalize the theme include the following:
i. Participation of youth in various forums, dialogues including Water, Energy, ICT, Transport and Employment sectors.
ii. A youth coordination structure was established for Water, Energy and Food Security (WEFS) Nexus Infrastructure Project.
iii. A SADC Framework for Monitoring, Evaluation and
Reporting (MER) on youth programmes, among others, at national level was established to facilitate evidence based youth policy development and implementation.
iv. A Conceptual Framework for the implementation of
SADC Regional Programme on Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship aimed at ensuring sustainability of the 38th Summit theme was also developed.
v. The High-level roundtable was conducted with a theme, “Upscaling Sustainable Energy for the Industrialisation Agenda and Youth Empowerment for the SADC Region”.
While youth actively contribute as political actors, innovators, entrepreneurs and peace builders, they continue to face disproportionate social, economic and political barriers, which prevent them from unleashing their full potential and meaningfully contributing to Sustainable Development.
Unemployment, underemployment, lack of skills and access to capital, result in youth experiencing social and political challenges such as conscription into armed rebellions and exposure to drug use and risky behaviour. Additionally, our youth continue to migrate within the continent as well as abroad, in search of greener pastures, making them vulnerable to exploitation, extreme abuse and mistreatment among other things.
The full realisation of SADC’s Vision and Mission are hinged on deliberate and coordinated efforts to accelerate social development that prioritises youth development and empowerment. We need to continue enhancing youth participation in policy formulation and to develop programmes in areas that affect the lives of young people in the entire SADC region.
As we are all aware, the main objective of SADC is to promote sustainable and equitable socio-economic growth and development to ensure poverty eradication and enhancing the standard and quality of life for the people of Southern Africa by supporting the socially disadvantaged through regional integration.
To achieve the stated overarching objective, the Secretariat continued to play an instrumental role during the year 2018/19, in facilitating and implementing various interventions within the Pillars of the Revised RISDP.
Industrialization remained at the core of the integration agenda of SADC and central to the diversification of regional economic growth. Some of the achievements recorded include the development of a draft Protocol on Industry, and a draft Regional Mining Vision (RMV) and Action Plan. We have also set the tone in the area of value chains, particularly in mineral beneficiation, pharmaceuticals, and agro-processing. The much needed profiling in these areas, has been completed, we now need to focus on mobilising the private sector, while we continue putting in place the needed supportive infrastructure as well as enhancing a conducive business environment. Such initiatives are critical in the implementation of value chains, and fostering our industrialisation objective.
Opportunities in value-addition and beneficiation in the region are immense and can be positively exploited through a regional approach taking into account the resource endowments, comparative advantage, productive capacities, and requisite skills of Member States. Member States are expected to align their value addition, beneficiation and industrialization strategies in line with the aspirations of the regional industrial framework. Hence, the development of the regional value-chain concept needs to be domesticated, in order to promote the implementation of the SADC Industrialization Strategy.
As a region, SADC has to assume a pivotal role in ensuring that there is an effective system of facilitating and monitoring intra-regional trade and cross-border business transactions with a view to enhancing intraregional trade, while identifying challenges, and designing sustainable strategies and solutions. In addition, SADC Member States are also expected to implement reforms in the trade sector and strengthen institutions in order reduce barriers to intra-regional trade and cross-border business transactions.
Closely linked to Industrialization is the development of infrastructure in support of regional integration.
Infrastructure development is the catalyst for regional integration, and therefore lies at the very heart of our efforts to promote high levels of inclusive growth and development in the region. It is imperative that we continue to accelerate the implementation of infrastructure projects in SADC, particularly through mobilizing adequate financing from domestic, private and innovative sources of funding. To this end, Namibia recently inaugurated the new container terminal of the Walvis Bay Port with a capacity to handle 750 000 twenty foot containers. This is in line with our aspiration to deepen connectivity and enhance regional integration
The onus is on our respective Governments to provide an enabling environment for infrastructure development by putting in place robust processes, systems and institutions, as well as leveraging and harmonising the existing structures at our disposal.
Governments should also promote policies that encourage the promotion of local capacity through indigenous or local “champions” who, through their entrepreneurial efforts, can drive regional infrastructure projects that are both, financially profitable to the private sector, and socially beneficial to our economies and citizens.
Despite the achievements recorded, our region is still facing some challenges towards the implementation of Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Plan and Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ. It is therefore incumbent upon all SADC Member States, to fully take advantage of low hanging fruit and leverage the capacity of the private sector, women and youth, in order to tap into their potential to support our developmental agenda.
As we are revising the revised Regional Indicative
Strategic Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO) in 2020, we should prioritize in order to leverage our scarce resources.
Therefore as SADC formulates its Vision and Strategic
Plan, it needs to take hard decisions on which areas to prioritize. It is tempting to include in SADC’s agenda, issues that in fact are best handled at the national level.
Some of the socio-economic issues clearly fall into that category, while others are better handled at the regional level. Programmes and activities to be undertaken at all the levels should contribute towards the realization of SADC’s ultimate goal, namely the improvement of the standard and quality of life of the people in the region. This has to be guided by the principle of subsidiarity, by allowing the Secretariat to focus on regional activities that will facilitate regional integration with visible results and positive impacts to SADC economic growth and development and allowing Member States to implement programmes that are best implemented at national level.
The revision of our strategic plan for integration and peace and security is an integral process, and active involvement of all stakeholders is paramount to the successful formulation of the Vision and the Strategic Plan, given the diversities of socio-economic orientation of and levels of economic development in individual Member States and respective people.
The year 2020 will mark the 25th commemoration of the Declaration adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. Together with the International Community, we will be taking part in the activities for the year and we must accentuate the significant contribution of our region in the advancement of gender equality and women empowerment, particularly in decision making and economic empowerment. This will ensure that our achievements are reflected in the national, regional and global review processes.
In line with SADC’s history of commitment to liberation and to the principle of self-determination on which
SADC was founded, which is also true to the aspirations of our forbearers, a SADC Solidarity Conference with the people of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic was held on 26 March 2019, in Pretoria South Africa. The
Conference was a watershed moment in asserting our resolve as a region that liberation, political freedom, and the right to self-determination are integral to who we are as a community. On behalf of SADC, allow me to extend our heart-felt appreciation to the people of the SADC region, through Your Excellencies for your commitment to the legitimate struggle of our brothers and sisters in Western Sahara. May I also extend our deep gratitude to the government and people of the Republic of South Africa for hosting the conference, and all the countries and Institutions for their invaluable contribution and participation. I believe that SADC, the African Union and the United Nations, will remain resolute in our joint efforts, and will implement the conference’s resolutions, which will lead to a positive, peaceful and permanent solution in Western Sahara.
In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge the great strides we have made as a region and the role played by the SADC Secretariat under the leadership of SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Tax. Their professionalism and commitment in ensuring that SADC continues to pursue its mandate is the pride of our region.
I also wish to applaud the collaboration and support of our international cooperating partners, who continue to make a significant contribution towards sustainable development in our region.
I wish to thank Your Excellencies for the confidence you placed in me and the people of Namibia during our tenure as Chair. Namibia is proud to have pulled its weight in our race towards economic prosperity and regional integration. It gives me great pleasure to pass the baton, to the Incoming Chairperson, His Excellency, and my Dear Brother, Dr. John Joseph Pombe Magufuli.
I believe that given his wisdom and dedication to the acceleration of development and welfare of the citizens of our region and continent, he will advance our regional integration agenda to higher heights.
It now gives me great pleasure therefore, to officially hand over the Chair of SADC to His Excellency, Dr. John Joseph Pombe Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
I wish us all productive implementation of our programmes and the SADC development and integration agenda during the coming year.

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