‘SADC growth impressive but…’

From EMELDA MWITWA in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
SOUTHERN Africa recorded an impressive gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year but the achievement failed to accomplish wholesome benefits for the people.
Southern African Development Community executive secretary, Stergomena Tax is happy with the region’s GDP, but is concerned that the growth did not translate into diversification, more jobs nor significant social growth.
“It is worrisome to note that the impressive growth story of Africa in the last decade has not translated into economic diversification, commensurate jobs or faster social development,” Dr Tax said.
Speaking at the 34th ordinary summit of the heads of state and government, Dr Tax said GDP grew by 4.9 percent in 2013, which was 0.1 percentage point above the 2013 average of 4.8 percent.
The inflation rate stood at an average of 7.1 percent. The regional also recorded national savings of 17.7 percent of GDP in 2013, implying that foreign savings financed significant proportion of investments in the region.
Dr Tax said with regards to investment, the region recorded 27.7 percent of GDP during the period under review, which was a 0.4 percent improvement over the 2012 level.
The global competitive index 2013-14 indicates that the SADC region is making progress in improving the business environment and competitiveness in general.
She noted that African economies continue to be characterised by high dependence on agricultural, mineral and other natural resource-based commodity production exports, with too little value addition and limited forward and backward linkages.
Dr Tax said the key challenge for SADC countries is how to design and implement effective policies to promote industrialisation and economic transformation.
“The challenge of industrialisation of the SADC region is to transform from a small undiversified and low technology manufacturing sector to a more diversified and medium high technology levels of manufacturing for domestic consumption – consumption in the region through intra-SADC trade and export to global markets,” she explained.
Dr Tax said this can be achieved through collective focus on building the industrial capacity necessary to produce higher value goods for trade within the SADC region and globally.

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