The call to set up a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) university is a noble one and we wonder why it has taken regional leaders this long to come up with such an idea.
Swaziland’s King Mswati III made the call on Sadc Day, August 17, calling on countries in the region to invest more in science and technology education.
The setting-up of such a university will be a very important step considering the centrality of science and technology to industrial development and Sadc leaders ought to ensure that this happens soon.
We hope this is not just a high-sounding promise, but it would be acted on.
There was once a proposal to co-ordinate education qualifications assessments in the region, but that initiative seems to have suffered a stillbirth.
As it stands, Sadc is behind other regions in integration and the setting-up of a university would boost integration.
Some blocs like in West Africa use a single currency while borders in East Africa are continually being erased as the content deepens “regionness”, but there has been little movement in Sadc in that regard.
Sadc summits should move from just being an old boys club, to one where there are serious and concerted efforts to unite the people of the region.
We feel Sadc could have done more for regional integration in the 37 years that it has been in existence, thus, the setting-up of a university is a welcome development.
If properly implemented, it will mean that the region’s best brains converge at one institution and there is continuous sharing of information on latest trends and developments among countries.
This will mean that nations in the region would stop viewing each other as competition, but rather as partners, as each would have something to contribute to the university and industry in the respective countries.
Once this is achieved, we are certain regional integration will permeate to other sectors of the economy and bring Sadc countries closer together.
There is desperate need to grow alliances and blur borders in this globalised world, such that Sadc approaches trade and industry issues as one, rather than where different interests are served at different times.
We hope that this moves beyond just a summit issue and is quickly implemented, with every country contributing its fair share of resources to get the university off the ground.
Sadc has remained behind on integration and it has a lot of work to do to catch up and the setting-up of this university could just be the beginning.