Your Excellencies, allow me to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our outgoing chairperson Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, for the exemplary manner in which he steered our organisation during the last year.
I am sure you will all agree with me that he kept the thrust on our agenda very high and the progress we have made is inspiring for the region. I also wish to thank your good selves, all the SADC Heads of State and Government, for your usual and unwavering support.
Our summit this year is being held under the theme “resource mobilisation for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure for an inclusive SADC industrialisation for the prosperity of the region”.
This theme is derived out of the desire to see the numerous initiatives launched by SADC over the years become a reality for the benefit of our peoples.
We have reached a juncture where as member states; we need to show commitment to our objectives by contributing to a fund that would serve as start up capital for our programmes and projects in the various sectors.
This fund can be used as collateral as we seek to raise funding from external sources to implement infrastructure projects in the region.
During our tenure we intend to focus our energies towards raising these funds which we hope will not only come from member states but also from our international partners.
The lack of resources has also stalled the full attainment of the sustainable development goals.
We therefore, have to speak in one voice for resource mobilisation. They say a unified force is stronger than a unilateral force. SADC represents a unified force, so we hope we can strengthen our capabilities and speak as one family.
There should be no room for failure as our success will have a positive impact on our region and create a better future for our people.
Your Excellencies, as heads of state and government we should aim to develop the region into one that offers the world a conducive investment climate that is ready to host any investor in a country of his choice.
We need to attract industries in research, education and training, tourism and finance among others, which can provide the much needed job creation, especially for our youth.
We do believe that the SADC has a lot to offer for investors as we have a dynamic workforce that is committed to working hard for the benefit of the region.
We need to have a well coordinated system to create an enabling infrastructure to promote a variety of projects that can contribute positively to our development.
We also need an effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism to track progress on whether we are able to achieve set targets.
We propose that at the end of this summit we should set ourselves time frames for our programmes so that we are able to present the milestones we have achieved during the next summit.
These achievements should be comprehensive with top priority being economic growth. The world is confronted by financial challenges with sluggish economic growth. This therefore has negative effects on our region which hinders our development and slows our growth.
We cannot afford to experience this every year because of the multiple programmes we have to fund. Our task is to find solutions to this challenge.
Your excellencies, as the kingdom of Eswatini, we recognise that investment in sustainable energy is a catalyst to the realisation of the SADC industrialisation agenda.
Investment in energy will contribute towards increasing productive capabilities for a sustainable and inclusive industrialization. To this end, it is our view that we must continue to focus on the priorities espoused by the revised regional indicative strategic development plan (2015 – 2020).
The three core pillars of the strategy and roadmap are industrialization, competition and regional integration.
As we gather here to put our collective minds towards finding solutions for the challenges we face as a region, we need to start thinking outside the box.
Africans were not born to be poor. We are highly capable of becoming innovative and creating a first world status for our nations. We must however, discard the tendency of failing to support one another.
We are reminded of a Swazi man who approached king Sobhuza II with the dream of building a helicopter. The king was encouraged by his innovation and invited him to present his project to the nation.
Unfortunately, the helicopter flew for only five kilometres. When it could not take off to fly back home, people laughed at the man and even questioned his state of mind. Naturally he was discouraged.
What we failed to realise was the innovation and creativity on display. All it needed was support to empower him. There are many such cases across Africa where we fail to support innovative and creative people because we do not believe in them.
However, if we adopt thought processes that encourage positive thinking such as the blue ocean strategy, SADC members would realise tremendous results.
Therefore, I urge you all that from this summit let us use our exposure to well developed countries to instil the belief in our fellow citizens that life in a first world country was possible for all Africans.
Your Excellencies, today we are confronted by drought and yet most of our citizens depend largely on agriculture for a living.
The drought has come at a great cost to our cattle and caused water rationing. If this could be prolonged, it would be even more disastrous for many people in the region. This will also cause severe food shortages.
Agriculture also provides employment and contributes to our economies. We therefore have a huge challenge to address the effects of drought by improving our weather forecasting systems.
I am glad to note that SADC has set up a centre for signal detection to warn of impending drought and natural disasters. If our systems have shortcomings, we then need to strengthen this centre to be more effective.
This information, if provided early enough, could also prompt governments to build dams for harvesting water on time.
Your Excellencies, the kingdom of Eswatini wishes to dedicate the establishment of a SADC university of transformation which will be the next milestone in our journey which started in 1980.
The University for Transformation will deliver in educational and training terms, using the technical vocational educational training model of delivery.
This initiative will give new hope and opportunity to our youth and our women. The intention is to have the first intake of students prior to the 37th SADC summit in 2017.
The Swaziland government is offering scholarships for 300 students in the initial intake to be drawn from all 15 community members – which is 20 students per member country.
Your Excellencies, we warmly and whole heartedly commend the SADC University of Transformation to you and the kingdom is asking for support for this imaginative initiative from all my fellow heads of state.
Your Excellencies, May I also take this opportunity to thank the people of the republic of Tanzania, Seychelles, and Zambia for their peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections.
Even though the results for the Zambia elections have been put on hold due to court processes, we wish to encourage patience as well as acceptance of whatever ruling that may come from the courts.
Your Excellencies, we look forward to fruitful deliberations and positive outcomes of this summit, which when implemented, shall elevate the quality of lives and security of our people in the region.
I thank you and may the Almighty God bless us