Lilongwe, 12 August, Mana: Malawi Vice President, Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima says the Southern African Development Community (SADC) needs to digitalize using faster internet connectivity to mitigate the economic havoc caused by the Covid 19 pandemic.
He says the SADC bloc has been swept into de-industrialization since 1990s, leading to the decline of its GDP by about 20 per cent, and adding that the region is increasingly becoming more consuming than producing.
The Malawi VP says digital industrialization will enable people to still be accessing services in respective countries, which will create opportunities in continued operations amid Covid 19 pandemic.
He was speaking in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe Thursday during a public lecture ahead of the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held on 17th to 18th August.
“The agro-processing, mineral exploration and excavation is among some key areas of the SASDC’s vision in order to turn things around.
“The global and domestic responses to the Covid 19 pandemic like state lock downs, have depressed many economic development factors leading to hiking of fuel prices among others, therefore, in this view innovation becomes a necessity.
“We must move fast to embrace digital economy and continue making profits amid Covid 19 pandemic as a SADC bloc,” he said.
He further says there must be an urgent need of budgets by SADC member states to quickly embrace Information Communication Technology in order to digitalize with ease.
“The digital ecosystem will carry the economy forward as it enables citizens to continue accessing services, that includes financial inclusion during the social economic vulnerabilities caused by Covid 19 pandemic,” he adds.
The lecture centered on three main pivotal points of digitalization, industrialization and providing a diagnostic analysis on how Covid 19 has impacted on the economy in the region, under the theme ‘Promoting Digitalization for Revival of the SADC Industrialization Agenda during Covid 19 Pandemic’.
The Veep who also serves as the country’s Minister of Economic Planning, Development and Public Sector Reforms, has further appealed to SADC Heads of State and Government to consider investing in technological development if the bloc is to realize tangible development for its citizens.
Speaking earlier, Deputy Executive Secretary for SADC Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo said strategic planning institutions should take the lead in reviving industrialization amid Covid 19 to realize good results.
“The academia, planning institutions in the SADC’s member states to be in the fore front to embrace digitalization. Covid 19 pandemic since it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, it has brought development into serious challenges in the SADC.
“There are many cross cutting issues like gender and development which the region has also to consider and make its natural resources sustainable amid the devastating climate change which is causing many natural disasters and Malawi is not spared,” Thembinkosi said.
He added that agro-processing must be one of the key areas as industrializations in the SADC bloc take its shape, to uplift the lives.
He appealed to member states to capitalize on industrialization and consider infrastructure development to link the countries as digital ecosystem stands one cardinal point.
Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Eisenhower Mkaka says the overarching issue in the sixteen member states is ‘Regional Integration’ for the common human development within the region.