Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) pose for a group photo during the 38th SADC Summit in Windhoek, Namibia, on Aug. 17, 2018. The summit is hosted under the theme: "Promoting Infrastructure and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development." (Xinhua/Nampa)
WINDHOEK, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit officially began on Friday in Namibia's capital Windhoek, 26 years after its transformation from the Southern African Development Coordination Conference in the same city.
The region's Heads of State arrived here on Thursday, as well as the Chairperson of the African Union, Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The summit is hosted under the theme: "Promoting Infrastructure and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development."
Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the SADC Executive Secretary, said the theme was aimed at advancing the SADC industrialization, and economic transformation agenda.
"It is anchored on three main elements namely: infrastructure development, youth empowerment, and sustainable development, which are catalysts and in tandem with the SADC Industrialization agenda," Tax said.
She said the theme called for SADC stakeholders and partners to catalyse infrastructure development so as to leverage industrialization, while taking advantage of the demographic dividend offered by the youth that constitute more than 75 percent of the region's population.
"The youth holds potential as an engine for growth for the region, and are key to achieving the region's overall objectives, with prospects to bring innovative ideas and solutions," she said.
Current estimates project the SADC combined population at close to 342.3 million, 60 percent of whom, are under the age of 35, she said.
"With such a large and increasing youth population, the region is sitting on a gold mine, which needs to be taped," she said. "The numbers not only offer substantial labour and market for goods and services, but also offer a demographic dividend that will ensure prolonged sustainable socio-economic growth and development of the region."
The region has also prioritized peace and security, industrialization, infrastructure development, on course to implementing its Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) from 2015-2020.
The summit will conclude on Saturday.