Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has urged member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to steadily converge on the region’s economic targets by implementing sustainable economic policies and diversifying their economies through value addition and beneficiation.
Delivering his acceptance speech as chairman of SADC over the weekend, Mugabe urged member states to fast track value addition and beneficiation so as to derive maximum benefit from their resources for the betterment of citizens’ lives. He said it is important for SADC member states to add value to their natural resources if they want to achieve the desired industrialization and infrastructure development that will facilitate improvement of the lives of the SADC communities. He added that the theme of this year’s summit “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition,” would drive SADC to harness handsome returns from its abundant and diverse resources.
“While the SADC is potentially one of the richest regions in the world, most of its agricultural and natural resources are exported unprocessed, which earns the region 10 percent of their actual value. Through beneficiation we will be able to increase our returns ten-fold,” said Mugabe.
He explained that value addition and beneficiation of SADC resources would lead to industrialization, creation of employment and increased returns from the export of processed goods. Statistics show that value addition from the primary sectors of mining and agriculture is as low as 15 percent in the region. Mugabe also urged the SADC to adopt a development integration approach that seeks to address production, infrastructure and efficiency barriers to growth and development. He believes that the prospects of an expanded market will stimulate intra Africa trade and lend a multiplier effect to economic growth while industrialization will enable SADC countries to produce quality goods. One of the main focus issues in the review of the SADC’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) was value addition and beneficiation of natural resources.
Also speaking at the SADC summit, Zimbabwe Foreign Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the region’s drive for regional integration and economic development will be made even more difficult by the fact that most of its mining resource operations are owned by foreign multinationals. He further said it is understandable that foreign multinationals are against beneficiation and value addition of SADC minerals because they benefit more from the status quo and warned that the road to full beneficiation and value addition will be a difficult one which, however, must be embarked upon. While he highlighted that he does not want to impose a solution on SADC member states, Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe has resolved this dilemma by legislating for Zimbabwean nationals to own 51 percent of the shares in mining operations.
“This is meant to ensure that we have the final say in the mining and administration of our resources. Through such an arrangement we were able to overcome such challenges and avoid excuses by foreign multinationals,” he said.
However, he said it is not up to Zimbabwe to impose a blanket solution to the problem of lack of value addition and beneficiation on the SADC as the issue will be addressed and resolved by the summit after a collective consensus has been reached.