Monday, 15 March 2021

ZIM FIRMS TO PRODUCE COVID-19 MEDICINES

ZIMBABWEAN companies are poised to get funding from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the manufacturing of Covid-19 medical and other pharmaceutical products.

The companies which are expected to benefit from the facility are Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Sable Chemicals and Disposables Pvt Ltd. Each company is expected to get €300 000.

Seventeen companies from eight SADC member states have been chosen to support the manufacture of Covid-19 medical and other pharmaceutical products.

SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax confirmed the latest development at the end of a two-day SADC Council of Ministers meeting last week.

Dr Tax informed the council that 17 companies from the region have been earmarked to manufacture Covid-19 medical and other pharmaceutical products under the initiative supported by the European Union (EU) and German development agency, GIZ. The initiative is aimed at enhancing the capacities in research and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, essential medicines and medical supplies.

“Of these, three are Zimbabwean entities that include HIT, Disposables Pvt Ltd and Sable Chemicals. Each company is set to receive €300 000.”

The SADC Council of Ministers held a virtual meeting on March 12, 2021, to discuss policies, strategies and programmes geared towards consolidating SADC regional integration in fulfilment of Council’s mandate as spelt out in Article 11 of the SADC Treaty.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Acting Minister Professor Amon Murwira attended the meeting.

He was accompanied by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza and Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro

The meeting takes key decisions to ensure that SADC remains a peaceful, prosperous, and relevant player in international relations.

Mozambique’s Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister VerĂ³nica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo chaired the meeting in her capacity as the chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers.

She underscored the timeliness and importance of the issues discussed by the SADC Council of Ministers in relation to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; disaster risk management and response, industrialisation, promotion of free trade at regional and continental levels and the Annual Corporate Plan and Budget of the SADC Secretariat to deliver the outcomes of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 and the SADC Vision 2050.

Minister Dlhovo called for timely and efficient implementation of the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers for the SADC region to continue to be a peaceful, prosperous and relevant player in international relations.

As a commitment towards disaster management and response, Minister Dlhovo welcomed the trust bestowed upon Mozambique to host the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC), which will be responsible for facilitating enhanced regional disaster risks preparedness, response and early recovery to support member states affected by disasters.

She cited a number of achievements recorded in the region’s drive towards deepening regional integration.

On regional infrastructure development, Dr Tax highlighted that a total of 63 regional Infrastructure projects, including 17 regional energy projects were developed under the second Priority Action Plan for Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP 2), the African Union continental strategic infrastructure framework, whereby three of the 17 projects were shortlisted, namely Luapula Hydro-power between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia; Baynes Hydro-power between Namibia and Angola; and Zzabona transmission interconnector between Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In a bid to accelerate regional industrialisation and infrastructure development, Dr Tax called for speedy implementation of the SADC Regional Development Fund; enhancement of capacities and capabilities of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for SADC citizens to realise employment and wealth creation benefits

She also called for the speed finalisation of the SADC Digital Economy Strategy in order to realise the targeted long-term industrialisation objectives, and added that digitisation of regional economies is a necessity, given the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the meeting, the council directed the Expanded Technical Committee for Coordinating and Monitoring the Implementation of the SADC Protocol on Health to continue monitoring the Covid-19 situation and provide timely advice, and to analyse the current Covid-19 situation in the African context and provide home-grown solutions. On a related matter, Council approved the proposal by Mozambique to hold the face to face meeting of the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in May or June 2021 to consider its detailed agenda, if the Covid-19 situation is contained.

Following the adoption of the guidelines on the Harmonisation and Facilitation of Cross Border Transport Operations Across the SADC region during Covid-19 Pandemic, Council urged member states to comply with the guidelines, especially with respect to mutual recognition by member states of Covid-19 test results and validity period of 0-14 days as stipulated in the guidelines.

The Council also endorsed the offer made by Mozambique to host the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) which will be responsible for facilitating enhanced regional disaster risks preparedness, response and early recovery to support members’ states affected by disasters.

On the regional and continental integration, Council noted the status of the signing and ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).

In this regard, the Council urged Member States who have not signed or ratified AfCFTA and TFTA to do so to allow for the implementation of the agreements. The ratification of the TFTA Agreement is critical as it will pave the way for the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.

Council also endorsed the proposal to extend Kiswahili as a working language through interpretation at SADC Ministerial Committee meetings.

The decision follows the approval by Summit in August 2019 to introduce Kiswahili as the fourth SADC Official Working Language on a gradual approach by first using Kiswahili as a working language through interpretation at SADC Summit and Council meetings only. Herald

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