The Honourable Nandcoomar Bodha, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, held, on Thursday 22 August 2019, a press conference on the outcomes of the 39th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The Summit took place in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and endorsed the theme “A Conducive Environment of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-Regional Trade and Job Creation”.
According to Minister Bodha, the SADC has always been a platform for conducive political dialogue and has been effective in addressing political issues. In recent times, there has been a slight change in priorities and Heads of State and Government realise that political dialogue is good but what is most important is to ensure industrialisation and development in Southern Africa, he indicated.
In the margins of the Summit, the Minister recalled that he had bilateral meetings with the Tanzanian President, Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli. Discussions focused on the possibility of exporting sugar towards Tanzania, investment projects pertaining to sugarcane cultivation in that country, and collaborative exchanges in a number of sectors such as the Port, air traffic connectivity and ICT. The Minister indicated that he also met the Malagasy President and the President of Mozambique with whom he discussed issues of mutual interest which included investment and maritime security.
As regards the Africa Strategy, Minister Bodha said that Mauritius needs a hinterland to promote its trade and investment policy, and this will be achieved with the African continent. ‘’We have exclusive economic zones in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and we are now working with Kenya, and possibilities in Mozambique and Tanzania have to be explored’, he emphasised. ‘We are also examining possibilities to roll out the Africa Strategy by working in partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Economic Development Board’, he stated. A desk will be set up in the East Africa region, that is, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya, with the aim to promote investment, especially with regards to Mauritian products on the African continent, he recalled.
Minister Bodha highlighted the key role of Mauritius as chair of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia and emphasised the need for the country to affirm its leading role in promoting maritime security in the region. The country intends to organise, in 2021, a world summit on maritime security, he further announced.
Moreover, the Summit noted the slow growth in the intra-SADC trade levels, and that the region continues to export unprocessed raw material to the rest of the world, thereby forfeiting the potential benefits of the resource endowments. Thus, the Summit agreed to accelerate the implementation of the industrialisation strategy of the SADC which is encapsulated in the organisation’s Protocol on Industry.
The next Summit will take place in Maputo, Mozambique in August 2020.