President Jacob Zuma says Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders should intensify efforts to encourage the private sector to support regional initiatives to bolster industrialisation and economic development.

The President was speaking after holding private talks with his Mozambican counterpart, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, in the capital Maputo.
The two leaders co-chaired the South Africa-Mozambique Bi-national Commission which is the highest mechanism governing bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries.

Mozambique is South Africa’s top trading partner on the African continent. By the end of last year, South African exports to Mozambique amounted to R33 billion, whereas imports from Mozambique are valued at R10 billion.

According to government, there are approximately 300 South African companies operating in Mozambique in the financial services sector, energy, and hospitality and retail sectors.

President Zuma has used his speech to call for increased and sustained trade investment flows between the two states

However, both countries have been experiencing low growth due to the fall of commodity prices. This has forced the SADC member states to diversify their economies into sectors such as agro-processing and infrastructure development.

President Zuma has used his speech to call for increased and sustained trade investment flows between the two states.

“With both our countries going through difficult economic challenges we should work more closely in utilising resources at our disposal. We need to work closely with the private sector. Economic development must be the key focus of our region.”

South Africa’s Energy Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, says while the Mozambican economic revolution presents a huge opportunity for South African companies to extend their footprint in the region, there is also a need for them to help build industrial and skills capacity in host countries.

“Transformation in the sector is now a priority. We are ensuring that in every programme that we are involved in we want to see more black companies. With companies doing business in the region we want to see a transfer of skills and building of capacity in those countries because it’s about us building the continent.”

For his part, President Nyusi has thanked the South African government for the role it is playing in mediating peace between the governing Frelimo party and the opposition Renamo. The former guerrilla movement, Renamo, has in recent years launched a series of attacks in the northern and central parts of Mozambique.
Since 2013, tensions have risen and Renamo fighters have again taken up arms against a Frelimo elites who they say have enriched themselves at the expense of the country. Speaking through an interpreter, President Nyusi says South Africa’s involvement in Mozambique’s mediation process will yield economic dividends for both countries.
“I’d like to say as we are bringing about peace, South Africa has been with us in playing a mediation role in bringing us together Renamo with us to facilitate the dialogue. This is a good potential for business and our agenda to help us build the tranquillity and political resilience in our two countries.”
Presidents Zuma and Nyusi presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in fostering greater investment and co-operation in the transport sector.

– By Tshepo Ikaneng