INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IS A CRITICAL DRIVER OF REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION:
REMARKS BY H.E. MR KGALEMA MOTLANTHE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE LAUNCH OF DR TOMAZ SALOMÃO’S BOOK, “Memoires on the SADC I Served”,
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WITWATERSRAND SCHOOL OF GOVERNANCE ON 21 FEBRUARY 2020
Mr Programme Director,
Facilitator, Professor Anthoni Van Nieuwkerk,
Our esteemed author, Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão and his family,
Professor Pundy Pillay,
Ms Siphelele Ngobese,
Mr Lumkile Mondi,
Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Ladies and gentlemen,
“We must unite for economic viability, first of all… so that our vast resources and capacity for development will bring prosperity for us and additional benefits for the rest of the world…”
I am quoting the legendary Kwame Nkrumah, the first post-colonial President of the Republic of Ghana, in his 1964 Speech at the Summit of the then Organisation for African Unity (now known as the African Union).
Although the unity and economic integration of Africa was a dream for our forebears such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Abdel Nasser, Modibo Keïta, and Sékou Touré to name but a few, their revolutionary thoughts have continued to inspire visionaries such as Dr Tomaz Salomão whose book, entitled, “Memoires on the SADC I Served”, we launch this evening.
Had Kwame Nkrumah read this book he would have, without a doubt, described Dr Tomaz Salomão as “a dedicated, modest, honest and informed man. A man who submerges self in service to the nation and mankind… A new type of man whose humility is his strength and whose integrity is his greatness…”
This is a highly decorated leader who has occupied several strategic ministerial portfolios in his home country such as the Minister of Finance and Planning and the Minister of Transport and Communications.
Before ascending to the apex position as Executive Secretary of SADC, he had served as the Chairperson of the SADC Transport and Communications Committee from 2000 to 2002.
During the period 2005 to 2013 Dr Salomão conscientiously served as the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Democratic Community (SADC).
Programme Director, Dr Salomão is an economist who knows only too well that peace, stability and security are the preconditions for economic development.
He used his experience of having occupied several strategic ministerial posts in the government of Mozambique to entrench peace and stability after many years of post-independence violence as well as resolving political crises that gripped some of the SADC member states.
What comes foremost in my mind is when Dr Salomão guided the 2008–2009 Zimbabwean political negotiations between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (led by Morgan Tsvangirai), its small splinter group, the Movement for Democratic Change (led by Arthur Mutambara), and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (led by Robert Mugabe). These negotiations intended to end the partisan violence and human rights violations in Zimbabwe and create a framework for a power-sharing executive government between the parties.
Dr Salomão distinguished himself as a meticulous facilitator who was trusted by all the interlocutors and stakeholders. This gave legitimacy to the process and led to the subsequent signing of the Global Political Agreement. The contesting parties signed that peace agreement as a contract to end the thitherto violent conflicts and committed themselves to building and consolidating the government of national unity. This milestone could doubtlessly be attributed to Dr Salomão’s diplomatic feat.
Ladies and gentleman, Dr Salomão’s story is a noble one about the critical role played by infrastructure in economic development which, in turn, generate employment and alleviate poverty.
In addressing the inadequate and underdeveloped infrastructure in this southern part of the continent, he oversaw the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan which was subsequently adopted in 2012 – and this currently serves as a strategic blueprint for infrastructure development programmes in the region. He also crafted the SADC Roadmap thus laying the foundation for the SADC Free Trade Area which was launched in 2008. Some of his catalytic projects include the Maputo Corridor; Nacala Development Corridor and Beira Development Corridor.
Dr Salomão has contributed immensely to the regional economic integration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Regional economic integration could be defined as an agreement between a number of countries in a geographic region to reduce and ultimately remove “tariff and non-tariff barriers to the free flow of goods, services, and factors of production between each other”.
According to the World Bank, the benefits accruing from regional integration are improvement in market efficiency; sharing the costs of public goods or large infrastructure projects; deciding policy collaboratively; a desire to reform; developing a building block for global integration; and last but not least, reaping other non-economic benefits, such as peace and security.
Programme Director, Dr Salomão’s thought provoking book is a timely intervention which could serve as a blueprint for regional economic integration particularly right now as we are advancing towards the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is intended to integrate the continent into a single market from 1 July this year.
Africa’s current integration landscape contains an array of regional economic communities and recognized building blocks of the African Union – namely the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and SADC.
The AfCFTA’s primary objectives are to create an integrated continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspersons and investments, and thus paving the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union. The AfCFTA will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member States of the African Union.
Programne Director, I wouldn’t conclude my remarks without congratulating the University of Witwatersrand to afford Dr Salomão the opportunity to serve as the Visiting Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance. The role of universities in providing capacity in refining the regional mechanisms such as institutional and policy development cannot be underestimated.
The book itself highlights the dynamics and complexities of regional integration which include inadequate skills and expertise that may impact negatively on regional policy design.
Congratulations to Dr Salomão on reaching this milestone of publishing this compelling book. It isn’t just profiling Dr Salomão, but it also chronicles Africa’s evolution into a common market. This is a significant marker in the history of our continent, and we are grateful that this book will preserve these developments and the rich lessons for posterity.
The interconnection between networks and facilities is enhanced by employing modern means of ITC communication to improve efficiencies in the boarder management systems. Of equal importance is improving and upgrading the management of railway lines, road networks and banking systems.
The time taken at border posts is costly, too slow, and not efficient enough for goods and people to cross the border from one country to another.
Creating the right environment for one of the world’s largest single markets to flourish is a considerable opportunity for African entrepreneurs to benefit.
Raising awareness of a free trade area will allow communities, businesses and individual entrepreneurs to craft new trade roadmaps for their organisations to increase healthy competition, innovation and prosperity for Africa’s people in the long term.
But for an African common market to be successfully achieved, policy-makers, businesspeople, academics, communities and ordinary citizens must engage in dialogue, exchange ideas and be aligned. Dr Tomaz Salomão’s book, “Memoires on the SADC I Served”, offers us insights and knowledge to base our discussions upon and enable an economic system that benefits all.
I thank you!