The majority of citizens in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) are wallowing in abject poverty despite the region’s massive mineral endowment.
Sadc chairperson and Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday acknowledged that 70% of people in the region were weltering in misery despite boasting of immense natural resources.
He was speaking at the Sadc Extraordinary Summit held in Harare under the theme “Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap”.
“Our region is endowed with abundant and diverse natural resources.
Just to illustrate this point, our mineral sector alone contributes to world production, and out 6 % of coal,7% of nickel,8% of copper,13 % of uranium,15% of manganese,18% of cobalt, 21% of zinc, 26% of gold, 41% of chromite, 55% of diamonds and 72 % of platinum group of metals,” he said.
“But alas despite the rich and diverse endowment of our region about 70 % of our people continue to live below the poverty datum line.”
Mugabe called for beneficiation and value addition of minerals as a measure to save economies from the vagaries of fluctuations of the global resource markets.
“By exporting our natural resources in their raw form we are not only earning marginal benefits from them, but are, in essence, compromising our efforts to create jobs, or diversify our products or even develop our industries and are ultimately, exposing our economies to the vagaries of fluctuations of the global resource markets,” he said.
Mugabe said the free trade area import statistics between Sadc and the Asia pacific region accounted for 45% and 27% with the European union, while the volume of intra-Sadc trade remains very low.
He said it was imperative for the region to embrace a regional integration and development strategy to prioritise industrialisation. Mugabe called for financial mobilisation to fund the cause to stop exporting raw materials.
Sadc has a regional infrastructure development master plan which is crucial to engender the industrial strategy.
Sadc executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax said effective implementation of the strategy must see the regional bloc increase the level of intra-regional trade, and its share of manufactured exports and manufacturing value addition in global trade and gross development product.