WINDHOEK– The private sector in the southern Africa sub-region needs to be more active in driving the regional integration process by creating better opportunities for investments, says the Director for Investment and Trade of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tapiwa Samanga.

Such investments are needed particularly in the areas of infrastructure development, manufacturing and creating opportunities for women and youth to participate in procurement, logistics and the distribution processes.

This observation was among conclusions and recommendation agreed by officials from SADC member States during the three-day SADC Industrial Week exhibition and conference which ended here Wednesday.

Announcing the recommendations, Samanga explained that the forum recommended that member States develop skills in the gas sector for youth and ensure that communities involved in gas-related projects benefit from job opportunities along the stages of their value chains, in order to execute the SADC Industrial Energy Efficiency Programme (SIEEP) effectively.

It thus declared plans to establish a Regional Gas Committee which is inclusive of the private sector to develop a Regional Gas Master Plan.

Samanga said the forum observed that youth, women and the private sector should be better involved in the policy-making processes on regional integration, industrialization and economic development.

He further noted that member States had declared their intention to provide conditions and incentives for the private sector and training institutions to build capacity of youth and women entrepreneurs through incubation, mentorship, internship and skills training programmes in key areas of industrialisation and to develop regional initiatives to enhance access for youth and women to capital and credit to launch start-ups.

Samanga said the forum further agreed to accelerate the establishment of the SADC Business Council as the overarching structure to engage the public sector in the region, while business organizations at country level will have to meet and nominate their apex business body to represent them on the council.

The recommendations will be taken to the SADC Council of Ministers who will deliberate on those to be presented at the 38th SADC Summit to be held here on Aug 17 and 18.