Leaders Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, including Tanzania's Samia Suluhu Hassan, are in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the 42nd heads of state summit which will run from August 17 to 18.
This year’s summit coincides with the 30th anniversary of SADC’s establishment on August 17, 1992 and will be held under the theme: “Promoting industrialisation through agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth.”
It is part of SADC's strategy to help member country economies diversify from dependence on primary commodities to higher-value manufactured products. Discussions at the summit will also centre on progress in implementation of SADC’s plan to further deepen southern Africa regional integration in industrial development and market integration by 2030.
According to Paul Diakiese, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi’s communication officer, several heads of state arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday to attend the summit.
They are: Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Wavel Ramkalawan (Seychelles), Hage Geingob (Namibia), Samia Suluhu (Tanzania), Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi), Philippe Nyusi (Mozambique) and Emerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.
Botswana’s Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe and Angola’s Foreign Minister Tete Antonio also arrived in Kinshasa to represent their heads of state.
King Mswati III of eSwatini, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema, Prithvirajsing Poopun of Mauritius and a leader from Lesotho are expected to arrive on Wednesday.
During the 42nd summit, President Chakwera, the current SADC chairman, will hand over the chairmanship to President Tshisekedi who is set to head the regional organisation for the 2022-2023 financial year.
DR Congo presidency's office added that, “Among the topics to be discussed in Kinshasa are health, but above all economic issues, maritime security in the sub-region, the free trade area in southern Africa, which must be supported by the continental free trade area. And also, the establishment of specialised agencies and their implementation mechanism.”
The SADC region has a population of almost 258 million with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $471.1 billion.
The 42nd summit will also focus on the collective development of the southern African region at a time when Africa as a whole is facing two major challenges: a food crisis and post-Covid-19 economic recovery. Experts in the region believe that there is a need to rethink the economy in order to be more resilient to economic shocks.
Tanzania and DR Congo are the only East African Community member states that also belong to SADC and President Samia held brief talks with host President Tshisekedi at Kinshasa's State House shortly after her arrival on Tuesday. Details of their discussions were not immediately available.