The private sector in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) is having limited impact on the development of regional economic dynamics, an official has said.
SADC is currently in the process of devising the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2005 -2020 (RISDP), whose key objective is to deepen regional integration as a means to achieve a number of economic goals for the bloc.
Yet some observers say the private sector is not having adequate opportunities to shape such significant broad polices that affect them.
Business Council of Southern Africa (BCSA) chairman Mr Oswell Binha however said private economic players in the region were committed to play a greater role in the economic affairs of the region.
“Private sector has not fully exploited opportunities to input, engage and influence regional development dynamics. It is thus committed to ensure that the SADC leaders develop a road map that identifies priority actions required to improve productivity and competitiveness.
This is not only commensurate with the new dream and thrust on regional value chains and resource beneficiation, but also enhances industrial production and intra-regional business that emphasises comparative advantage,” said Mr Binha.
With the SADC Extraordinary Summit set to be held at the end of this month in Harare, it is largely expected that economic issues will be at the forefront of debate during the meeting.
This is in view of the common agenda of SADC as defined in Article 5 of the SADC Treaty (1992), which, among other things highlights that the regional bloc focuses on promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development.
Mr Binha, a past president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, said the BCSA in partnership with the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI) and NEPAD Business Foundation will host a regional business conference that will run concurrently as a strategy to enhance the input of the private sector to discussions during the SADC Extraordinary Summit.
“The conference intends to amplify supply-side issues and constraints that have constrained and impeded growth of SADC economies… . Our role transcends an agenda that focuses exclusively on border measures, nevertheless an issue the private sector has relentlessly championed,” he said.
The RISDP, which was approved by the SADC Summit in August 2003, contains detailed milestones, target outputs and responsibilities for the 15-year plan.
The plan also has specific outputs in the area of private sector involvement including: policy on public-private sector partnership; an institutionalised public-private dialogue; incorporation of private sector representatives in SADC national committees, and establishment of a private sector unit within the SADC Secretariat.
It also allows for the creation of a regional competitiveness and business climate survey; a SADC bi-annual business forum, and facilitation of a regional private sector organisation.
“These outputs for the RISDP provide the framework within which the BCSA can engage with SADC and related organs and institutions,” said Mr Binha.