Government is elated that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has recognised the importance of engaging youths for sustainable development to be achieved in the region.


Minister of Sports, Youth and Child Development Moses Mawere said young people in Zambia and the region are in the majority and should be involved in the development of their countries’ economies.


Mr. Mawere was speaking in an interview with ZANIS in Windhoek, Namibia yesterday ahead of the 38th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).


The Summit scheduled to take place from August 17 to 18, will be held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.


The theme builds on the focus of the past four SADC summits that looked at how the region can attain industrial development.


Mr. Mawere noted that Zambia is not a stranger to the 38th Ordinary SADC summit, adding that country already put in place legislations and policies such as the 2015 Youth Empowerment policy and action plan which guides government on how to empower youths.


“The theme is well placed and familiar to Zambia especially that more than 80 percent of our population comprises of young people and that as a country we already have legislation on youth programmes. This is an important demographic for sustainable development for any country. We are excited that the SADC has realized this,” said Mr Mawere.


The Sports, Youth and Child Development Minister cited the creation of the National Youth Council under the act of Parliament that ensures that young people form organizations that are recognised by government. 


“Zambia does not expect more changes in terms of policies because we have enough programmes and policies to drive our empowerment programmes for youths,” Mr Mawere said.


He said Zambia encourages private sector participation, foreign direct investment and domestic investment, as platforms for young people to be employed and engaged in gainful employment.


He further encouraged young people to partner with government and to embrace entrepreneurship so that they acquire necessary skills particularly needed in the infrastructure development sector.


Mr Mawere expressed pleasure that the essence of the 38th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) theme, is to open up trade among member countries so that goods and services produced by young people are easily sold across borders.


“After the launch of the theme Zambia expects to see member countries put up platforms and frameworks which will help young people to be empowered and at the same time help to grow the market for products which the young people will produce,” he advised.


He said Zambia will however have to safeguard the market while taking advantage of the opportunities.


Mr Mawere has assured that government is focused on empowering every youth impartially and within their localities and areas of interest.


Meanwhile, youths in Windhoek, Namibia have expressed hope that the summit will address the issue of unemployment in the region.


Betty Rabanus and Mandy Mbaukira said many youths in the region still find it difficult to get jobs even after obtaining the highest level of education.


The duo alleged that corruption in acquiring employment should be addressed by the summit saying the trend only favours those who are well to do.


They medical students in expert health care however cautioned fellow youths against misusing resources allocated for youth empowerment programmes.


The 38th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development” also resonates with one of the key pillars of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2015-2030) in which integrated infrastructure networks are regarded as an important enabler of industrialization and market integration.


Namibia last hosted such a SADC event in 1992 during the historic Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, where leaders from the region signed the SADC Treaty and Declaration that effectively transformed the then Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) into Southern African Development Community (SADC).


Namibian President Hage Geingob will assume the leadership of the regional organisation from his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa during this year’s 38th SADC Summit.


The current SADC troika comprises of President Ramaphosa, of South Africa as the Chairperson of SADC,  President Geingob, as the incoming Chairperson, and His Majesty King Mswati III, of the Kingdom of Eswatini as the outgoing Chairperson. 


The troika for the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation comprises of President João Lourenço, of Angola as Chairperson of the Organ, President Edgar Lungu, of Zambia as the incoming Chairperson of the Organ, and President John Joseph Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania as outgoing Chairperson of the Organ. 


The summit is expected to welcome the Union of Comoros as a new member.


Comoros was formally admitted into SADC at the 37th SADC Summit held in Pretoria, South Africa last year.


Expected to making their debut at this year’s summit are five Presidents namely President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, Joao Lourenco of Angola, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe and President Azali Assoumani of the Union of Comoros.

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