YANDE SYAMPEYO, Harare
MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba says regional integration is key to Africaâ€™s development.
Commenting on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers, which closed on Monday, the minister said the SADC region has come up with a regional strategic development plan, which will be incorporated into the African Unionâ€™s (AU) Agenda 2063, in which theÂ continent should be able to relate with the rest of the world.
â€œAnd so SADC, as a block is trying to emancipate itself to be at par with other regions and be able to begin relating.
â€œSo the ministersâ€™ meeting, which we have just concluded has placed emphasis on the fact that industrialisation is key and answer to most challenges that African countries, especially in the SADC region are facedÂ with,â€ Mr Kalaba said.
â€œThe second issue is that we are going to marry the AU plan with that of SADC so that the two plans can move in tandem, which is the African Agenda 2063,â€ he said.
Mr Kalaba said the ministersâ€™ meeting also deliberated on the continental free trade area (CFTA), which is scheduled to be launched in Egypt in June this year.
â€œAll this is meant to make Africa become one because once we begin trading amongst ourselves,Â we will become strongerÂ and even the developmentÂ process will move as one continent of Africa in realising our peopleâ€™s dreams,â€ Mr Kalaba said.
And Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe said in an interview that Zambia has a lot to learn and benefit from the industrialisation agenda, which is before the summit.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said Zambia is mindful that it has a long way to go in attaining industrialisation and job creation.
â€œSo when you have a session such as this one, which is focusing on industrialisation and job creation, for us we feel it is a very important agenda item which should be addressed,â€ Mrs Mwanakatwe said.
She said Zambia should carry out research on the segment of population that lacks employment.
â€œAnd if I look at close to 70 percent ofÂ our population being under the age of 25 years, we need to make sure that whatever industrialisationÂ strategy that we embark on addresses the issue of youth employment both in urban and rural areas,â€ she said.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said there is need to create jobs along the value chain from raw materials to finished products.
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Harare