The Sunday Mail
REGIONAL WINNER — FIRST POSITION
WRITTEN BY: PRUDENCE ZVIKOMBORERO MAVURA OF MURAMBINDA B SECONDARY SCHOOL , ZIMBABWE.TOPIC: TRANSFORMATION OF NATURAL ENDOWMENTS AND IMPROVED HUMAN CAPITAL WILL ACCELERATE INDUSTRIALISATION IN SADC ECONOMIES.
All SADC countries have natural resources ; though in different magnitudes. These natural resources contribute significantly to the economies of these countries depending on the extent to which they are tapped.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the region’s richest in terms of natural resources of economic importance. Examples include diamonds, uranium, gold, oil, gas, coffee, sugar, rubber, cotton, fish, timber, bananas, cocoa, tobacco and hydro- electric power. Sadly some of these resources lie untapped.
Mozambique boasts of prawns, fish, coconuts, oil, coal, gems, timber, marble, precious stones and heavy sands. These contribute significantly to the country’s economy.
Madagascar benefits from graphite, chromites, mica, bauxite, quartz, semi-precious stones, coffee, salt, tar sands and hydropower. The country has a vibrant economy, buoyed by natural resource based industries like sugar processing, paper industry and tourism.
The Republic of Namibia contains natural resources such as diamonds, uranium, fish, sea and marine resources as well as the Fish River Canyon which is one of the wonders of the African continent.
Geographically located near Namibia is the Republic of Angola. Fish, diamonds, oil, gas, petroleum and wildlife give life to the country’s economy.
The economic lifeline of Malawi rests on fish, wildlife, limestone, coffee, sugar, tea, cotton, coal and bauxite. The island of Mauritius survives on its marine climate to build an agriculturally based economy in which bananas, sugarcane and other marine crops play a significant role. The beaches also contribute(through tourism) to the country’s economy.
Seychelles also thrives on tourism as well as tuna fishing. Other natural resources of economic benefit include cinnamon and copra.
Gold, chromium, iron ore, nickel, phosphates, tin, copper, vanadium ,natural gas, sugarcane, citrus fruits, vegetables, marine resources and many others make up a portfolio of natural resources that have seen South Africa growing into one of the world’s most sophisticated countries economically.
The Kingdom of Swaziland has asbestos, coal ,hydropower, timber, diamonds, quarry stone, sugarcane and talc. These have helped sustain the monarch’s economy.
Lesotho enjoys arable land, grazing land, sand, clay, diamonds and building stone. The mountainous terrain of the country attracts eco-tourism which contributes to the economy.
The natural waterway of Tanzania has suddenly transformed the Tanzanian economy as most African countries now prefer to import goods through the port of Dar es Salaam. Tin , phosphates, iron ore, gemstones, gold, coal, diamonds, nickel and natural gas propel the economy togrther with agriculture.
Botswana ranks among the continents’ most economically stable democracies. Diamonds, copper, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore and silver drive the economy. Drought resistant crops are also grown and the diamond industry, livestock products processing and textile industries also play a significant role economically.
Apart from copper Zambia has zinc, coal, gold ,silver, uranium and hydropower .Together with agriculture ,the Zambian minerals have weaned the country from over dependence on copper ; thereby cushioning the economy against fluctuating copper prices on the world market. This has stabilised the economy.
Zimbabwe benefits from coal, diamonds, gold, chromium, nickel copper, hydropower and tin. Wood products, cement, fertilizer and agriculture have also helped the economy to remain vibrant. The country also has beautiful natural scenery which has attracted tourists, gaining the country foreign currency.
For industrialisation to occur, there should be skills, effort and many other requisite conditions.
Industrialisation requires money because one has to use money to make money. SADC countries need to attract investors who are prepared to plough capital to facilitate industrialisation.
Infrastructure is the next key requirement. It comes in the form of transport, energy and water supply, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as factory buildings and other vital installations within and outside the factories. The infrastructure has to be efficient and of high quality. This will allow mass production of high quality goods.
Technical partners are also important, in our quest to industrialise the SADC region. This arises from the fact that SADC countries may not have many people with the expertise that might be needed to facilitate modern industrialisation.
Also, it is important that the SADC region keeps track of the progress it has made towards achieving the goals of its own industrialisation policies such as the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 ,the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan( RIDMP) as well as the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa( STISA) 2024. Such instruments are vital requirements because they give SADC members a yardstick to measure how far they have gone with industrialisation.
Without natural resources, there will not be much to process in our industries. It is therefore imperative that we jealously guard our natural resources since they are the main inputs of our industries.
Beneficiation and value addition knowledge is also a key requirement in industrialisation. This is because value addition and beneficiation have the potential to create other supporting industries as we break bulk.
Access to international lines of credit from financiers such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) will also facilitate industrialisation in the Region. This is because at times money from private investors comes with “strings attacked” and at times such money also comes with high interest rates.
During industrial production, goods, people and services have to be moved from one point to the other. Information also has to be transmitted efficiently. Therefore ,the expert installation and communication systems is also a key requirement needed to facilitate industrialisation in the Region.
In addition to the above, industry needs labour, so industrialisation can only proceed if there is adequate skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour. Endowed with large populations, SADC countries should find it easy to harness a huge labour force to propel industrialisation.
Most importantly, SADC countries need to endeavour to establish democratic political systems that promote peace so that those involved in industrialisation operate in a peaceful environment.
Science, Technology and Innovation are the bedrock of industrialisation.
Simply put, innovation is the act of introducing something new. Normally, this new thing should be better than that currently existing. In industrialisation, the quest to introduce new ideas, technology and products leads to industrial development/ progress.
Through innovation, technical knowledge is put to test through Science until new technologies are discovered. SADC countries should ensure that there is adequate training for scientists and other technical personnel so that they may continue to be innovative.
Again, through innovation, obsolete infrastructure will either be replaced with modern infrastructure or upgraded to go in tandem with modern trends of a particular time. By so doing, our industries will remain relevant.
Science also has a pivotal role to play. Through Science, there is experimentation until results are realised. Therefore, Science enables new products to be produced. Existing industrial plants, installations and systems can also be upgraded through Science. The level of Science, Technology and Innovation of a country is used to determine its level of development. Therefore, for SADC countries, Science will help us industrialise better because more machines, installations and other essentials will be produced.
Technology is when Scientific knowledge is manipulated for practical purposes. The machines, computers, installations and other requisites that we see and use are examples of technology. Without technology, there is no industry. Whatever happens in an industry is a result of technology. SADC countries need to realise that technology has to be continuously introduced, maintained, replaced or upgraded so that industrialisation progresses.
Technology allows firms to produce more and even better items if it is continuously upgraded. Furthermore, technology will enable SADC member states to develop beneficiation factories which will then help them to realise more profits from their natural resources.
Finally, new technology will ensure that there is instant communication. This will link organisations and/ or people irrespective of their diverse distant geographical locations.
The advancement of industrialisation in the SADC region depends on the existence of key critical skills.
Some SADC countries have untapped uranium deposits underground. Uranium can be used to generate power. The region needs Uranium and Nuclear Scientists to tap the uranium and generate electricity out of it. This electricity will then propel industrialisation substantially.
Our diamonds are mainly cut and polished abroad. This is prejudicing SADC of millions of dollars. There is need for technical knowledge to manufacture, operate and repair diamond cleaving, bruting and polishing machines.
There is also need for software engineers since industry the world over has now turned sophisticated. These are currently mainly coming from abroad.
Advanced industry requires product quality controllers. This skill to determine the quality and safety of a product is very critical. SADC needs these experts too.
The region currently lacks knowledgeable industrial designers. Industrial designing is critical since it is now imperative that the firms be technologically advanced.
Another vital skill is the ability to carry out industrial research. SADC needs industrial researchers to promote industrialisation.
The Region should also have its own beneficiation experts for all industries where beneficiation and value addition are necessary for industrial progress.
In these modern times, there is a need for the education sector to become “industry-sensitive”. Now is the time to re-calibrate our school curricular as a Region so that our educational institutions produce learners who are able to contribute effectively to the economies of their own countries.
The education systems in SADC member states should be moved away from the theory approach and embrace the practical innovative enterprise approach. This new approach will engender the productive mentality in learners.
Secondly, entrepreneurship should be taught as a subject in schools to cultivate the skill from an early age.
There is also an urgent need to deliberately create bias towards Science subjects. This can be done through giving study incentives like scholarships, bursaries and free education to students studying Science subjects or courses.
The education sector should also allocate more funds towards establishment of state-of-the-art Science laboratories in all schools. The current situation in most SADC countries is that funds are allocated generally to all schools by government.
The educators, teachers must be constantly staff developed scientifically so that they are able to teach current information.
More vocational and technical subjects need to be introduced so that learners leave school ready to play their part in economic development.
In order for social and economic development to take place, various stakeholders should play a part in monitoring Education and Training of SADC citizenry.
The private sector should avail funds to facilitate changes in the education and training sectors .Such changes become necessary as world trends keep changing.
The private sector should also finance skills development courses and workshops.
The Non-Governmental Organisations are normally heavily funded by their international financiers. They should view it as their moral obligation to finance skills development and competency courses in SADC countries. These organisations should also assist in establishing schools, colleges and universities so that SADC citizenry may benefit through capacity building courses.
Most of SADC citizens live in rural communities which are ruled by traditional authorities. Therefore, these authorities should ensure the education and training sectors constantly review their curriculum to equip learners with skills that promote social and economic development.
Traditional authorities should identify the main enablers of economic and social development in their own areas. They should then work together with those in the education and training sectors to ensure that their citizens are educated and trained relevantly.
Finally, the local communities should embrace the measures put in place by the education sector to empower them socially and economically.They should be prepared to compromise even those ideas and beliefs that they may have held onto for decades or even lifetimes.This will allow positive socio-economic development to take place and propel them to a better future.
My special thanks go to Mr Joseph Kufa my school teacher and mentor for teaching me how to research and for telling me that I can only win by ” writing beyond the ordinary”. I feel honoured to be under his mentorship. God bless him.