SADC Day 2023: Celebrating Unity, Progress, and Regional Development

In a message to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, H.E. President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the current President of SADC, has extended warm wishes on the occasion of SADC Day 2023. The day marks a significant annual commemoration since the historic decision of the 14th SADC Summit in 1994 to declare August 17 as SADC Day. This date serves to honor the organization’s dedication to fostering development and unity across the region.

Since its establishment in 1980, SADC has maintained a steadfast commitment to solidarity and cooperation in addressing the myriad challenges facing the Southern African Region. Despite periodic security threats in certain member states, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique, where armed groups continue to disrupt lives, the region as a whole enjoys a commendable level of stability and security. President Tshisekedi acknowledged the contributions of various leaders, including His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob, President of Namibia and Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Political, Defence, and Security Cooperation, in maintaining this stability.

While acknowledging the challenges, President Tshisekedi also highlighted the positive aspects of SADC’s progress. The African Union Commission’s Multidimensional Regional Integration Index recently awarded SADC a high score for regional integration, particularly in financial, infrastructural, trade, and environmental integration. With 16 member states boasting a combined gross domestic product of approximately $720 billion and a population of over 360 million—75% of whom are young people—the region represents a dynamic market with significant potential for investment and economic growth.

President Tshisekedi called for increased efforts to raise awareness about SADC’s role, mandate, and achievements among member state officials, SADC Ambassadors, High Commissioners, and the media. Emphasizing SADC’s continued relevance, he stressed its importance in driving regional integration and socio-political and economic development.

Addressing ongoing challenges posed by natural disasters, emergencies, inflation, weak growth, and climate change, President Tshisekedi underlined the need for SADC to emerge stronger and more resilient. Industrialization was highlighted as a priority for the region, with the theme of the 42nd Ordinary Summit of SADC in 2022 focusing on “Promoting industrialization through agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and regional value-chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth.” The incoming SADC Chair, the Republic of Angola, proposed the theme for the following year, “Human and Financial Capital: The Key Drivers for Sustainable Industrialization in the SADC Region,” which aims to further drive the industrialization agenda.

In conclusion, President Tshisekedi called for united efforts to fulfill the aspirations of SADC citizens for economic well-being, justice, and freedom. As SADC Day 2023 is commemorated, he urged reflection on the region’s progress, envisioning a brighter future for the generations to come—one marked by peaceful coexistence and prosperity.

With the message of unity and progress resonating strongly, SADC member states are encouraged to continue working together for the collective betterment of the region and its people.

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