Leaders of the Southern African Development Community have agreed to accelerate the implementation of industrialization strategy in effort to promote regional development.
In the 39th summit of the trade bloc held from Aug 17-18 in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam, leaders from the 16 African countries that make up the community noted with great concern the slow growth of intra-SADC trade levels.
They noted the region continues to export unprocessed raw material to the rest of the world, thereby forfeiting potential benefits of resource endowments.
Member states were also called upon to implement comprehensive multi-year response plans to tackle recurrent droughts and food insecurity to boost agricultural production.
John Magufuli, the president of Tanzania and the chairperson of SADC, said member states had agreed to improve the business environment including stepping up actions against red tape in decision-making, cross-border trade barriers and corruption.
"We are focused on growing economies and improving the livelihood of our people," he said.
Magufuli said heads of state had directed the SADC secretariat to expedite the operationalization of the community's disaster preparedness and response mechanism as part of the regional measures to respond to climate change.
Owing to natural disasters, climate change and other global challenges, he said, last year the bloc recorded an average Gross Domestic Product growth of 3.1 percent instead of the projected growth of 7 percent.
Magufuli encouraged countries to invest in industrialization in order to boost trade and grow their economies.
Titled "A conducive environment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development, increased intra-regional trade and job creation", the summit witnessed the signing of four protocols.
They included a protocol on industry, aimed at promoting the development of a diversified, innovative and globally competitive industrial base; amendment of the protocol on extradition of suspects and legal assistance in crime.
They also approved the protocol on inter-state transfer of sentenced offenders, to allow for the transfer of sentenced offenders to serve their sentences in their home countries.
The leaders also agreed to address rising security threats in the region including terrorist activities and transnational organized crime. Member states were thus urged to prioritize the implementation of the SADC Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
They agreed to collaborate with the international conference of the Great Lakes Region, and consolidate efforts toward security stabilization in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Great Lakes Region.
This is in addition to addressing maritime security threats such as piracy, maritime terrorism, drug trafficking, and illegal carrying and trafficking of weapons and ammunition.
Magufuli also called on the international community to lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe to facilitate the country's socioeconomic recovery.
He said SADC member states agreed to continue negotiating with the international community through their embassies and other organizations to lift the sanctions, which he said had not only affected Zimbabwe but also the entire region.
To express their solidarity with Zimbabwe, the summit declared Oct 25, 2019 as the date on which SADC member states can collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted.