The Keynote Address was delivered by King Mswati III from Swaziland, as the outgoing chairperson of SADC. He extended his appreciation to South Africa for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to the delegations.
He thanked all member states for their support during Swaziland’s chairship of SADC. He also thanked the SADC Secretariat for their support.
The King ceremonially handed over the chairship to President Zuma, as the incoming chairperson.
In his acceptance statement, President Zuma said South Africa intended to advance progress made by the previous SADC chairpersons. He said it was of central importance to SADC to add value to its resources and to grow intra-regional trade and the regional brand.
Key activities during South Africa’s chairship, as announced by the President, include:
“Our cooperation as a region will allow our economies to overcome the challenge of small, fragmented economies, and create a larger market that improves the region’s prospects to attract investment.
- the development of a high impact Annual Operation Plan with targeted interventions and public policy tools to foster the development of regional value-chains in agro-processing, pharmaceuticals and mineral beneficiation.
- promote a Member State driven process through the Industrial Development Forum to facilitate the identification of cross-border projects that will strengthen regional value-chains and contribute to the development of the region.
- in addition to the initiative started by Swaziland on the establishment of the University of Transformation, introduce a new programme to develop capacity in industrial policy making and implementation for senior officials in the SADC region.
- as food security remains a critical component of the developmental path, South Africa will work closely with the SADC community in developing and rolling out a model, in terms of prevention, surveillance and in dealing with destructive invasive species.
- taking the lead from Swaziland, there is a need to promote region-wide integrated energy planning and cooperation in the development of priority energy infrastructure and maintenance projects, with the view to attract private sector investment. As a new initiative, South Africa proposes the establishment of an Inter-state Natural Gas Committee to share learning for regional gas development and to prepare for the development of the wider gas economy.
- prioritise the conclusion of the Trade in Services negotiations in SADC. The prioritised sectors include construction, communication, transport, finance, energy and tourism. This will put the SADC region in a firm position to engage in the Continental FTA negotiations.
“We will also need to work together towards the objective of broadening integration through the establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area, and the Continental FTA.
“I am pleased to inform this August gathering that South Africa has recently appended its signature to the agreement establishing the TFTA, thereby becoming the 19th Member State out of the 26 nations to do so. This augurs well for our long standing decision to support regional economic integration,” President Zuma said. He concluded: “It is my hope that this Summit, and our celebration of twenty five years as SADC, will be a time for reflection and renewed cooperation towards our shared common future of a prosperous and peaceful SADC region.”
Other speakers during the ceremony included the Dr Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.
The President of the Seychelles, Danny Faure, and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Dr Thomas Thabane, made their maiden speeches to the gathering.
The Ratshepo Secondary School Choir from Hammanskraal performed the South African and SADC Anthems, while the guests were also treated to cultural interventions by the Market Theatre and Woza, Imoshi.