Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa returned to South Africa from Windhoek in Namibia on Saturday, where he participated in the 38th ordinary summit of the heads of state and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and handed the SADC chairmanship to Namibian President Hage Geingob.

The summit took place on August 17 and 18 under the theme “Promoting infrastructure and youth empowerment for sustainable development”, the presidency said in a statement. 

Before the summit, Ramaphosa had also attended the SADC organ on politics, defence, and security meeting on August 16. The summit marked the 26th anniversary of the adoption of the SADC treaty, which was signed on August 17, 1992, and laid the foundation for the formation of the SADC.

Former Namibian presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, and former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano, as elder statesmen of the region and founding fathers of the SADC, were part of the SADC Day (August 17) celebrations at the summit.

Ramaphosa, as the outgoing SADC chairman, reported to the summit on the work of the regional body for the duration of South Africa’s tenure guided by its tenure theme “Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value chains” from August 2017 to August 2018.

Ramaphosa outlined that during South Africa’s tenure $500 million was secured in committed productive investments by South African companies in each of the priority value chains across the region. The investments covered forestry, agriculture and agro-processing, fertiliser, mining and mineral processing, and pharmaceuticals.

“We therefore need to ensure that we create a conducive environment for business to thrive and to deepen our engagement with the private sector. Collaboration with the private sector is important not only in designing SADC regional strategies and initiatives, but also in identifying impediments to greater regional economic integration,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said he was encouraged by strides taken to maintain peace and stability in the SADC region, including holding regular, free, and fair elections, saying “the consolidation of democracy and the elevation of the rule of law across the region is a sign of the improved effectiveness of our regional institutions and mechanisms”.

African News Agency/ANA