Golden Sibanda in Cape Town, South Africa
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has made a rallying call for regional countries to develop systems that ensure their economies speak to each other to address challenges of high costs and impediments posed by infrastructural gaps and geographical locations.
Speaking in a session on delivering on mega projects during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, President Mnangagwa said while countries like Zimbabwe were landlocked, it was not a reason to bury heads in the sand and resign to fate.
This year’s WEF Africa, which started on Wednesday and ends today with leaders from across business, politics, academia, labour and civil society in attendance, is being held under the theme “Sharing Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
The head of state and Government said out of the 15 SADC member states, the majority had no access to the sea, but if the region developed interconnected infrastructure, this limitation would be eliminated.
“We must not bury our hands in the sand and say we are landlocked. Initially we should say, we are land-linked and how do we get land-linked?, we must develop systems to get us to the sea,” the President said.
He said while founding fathers of the continent had the duty to liberate the continent from the yoke of colonial oppression, the current crop’s objective was to grow economies for the prosperity of its citizens.
“What comes to mind immediately are major projects that are applicable to the entire region, things like energy. We have deficit of energy in the entire SADC region. We must look at how we must collectively resolve the issue of energy in the region,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said while infrastructure was domestic or national or regional, it was critical that the region developed standard infrastructure that is connected to each other and giving all countries sea access.
“We must have roads that speak to each other. Roads that are developed, a standard acceptable to the entire region in our area. Our rail systems and networks must speak to each other. We must develop and re-vision as to what we must have in the future in respect of our rail systems,” he said.
“We must say we are land-linked. We must develop systems to take us to the sea, but down the line as we co-operate with countries that have sea like Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia, we become land linked because we have developed infrastructure that looks after our goods and services.”
President Mnangagwa said the region must find a way that makes sure that those countries that are landlocked do not suffer from the cost burden of their locations.
“Our economies must not be burdened by the reason that we are landlocked. We must be able to co-operate, ether by road or by air it is critically that we do so,” he said.
President Mnangagwa also said under co-operation and in view of the fact that not every regional country was similarly endowed with the right climatic conditions to ensure food security, those with the attributes must modernise their agriculture to increase productivity to support the region.
Further, he said while in the past African countries focused on production of raw materials and exporting them in the raw form, focusing should now shift towards acquiring modern technology to add
“It is necessary to look at technology that can be brought into region for beneficiation, as we develop in our region don’t need to limit ourselves to primary production, agro processing and beneficiation and participate directly in the global markets,” he
President Mnangagwa said Africa, and SADC in particular must interrogate what it must do to be innovative in order to come up with solutions to its challenges, and this entailed refocussing the education curricula to speak to its challenges and needs.