Strategies for the regional planning of the minerals industry in Southern Africa : the case of the SADCC
The Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) was launched in 1980 and includes all of the states of southern Africa with the exception of South Africa. It seeks to promote regional development through collective self-reliance. The region is exceptionally rich in mineral resources and, as a whole, the SADCC falls within the classification of a "minerals economy'. The minerals sector currently has the role of providing the state with foreign exchange and revenues as almost all minerals are exported. Due to the small size (population, economy, resources) of each SADCC state it would be difficult to redeploy their minerals sector from its current colonial role to that of providing the foundation for resource-based industrialisation. However, the regional context provides greater possibilities for delinking and the initiation of an autonomous and sustained development process. Strategies for the regional planning of the sub-continental minerals sector are numerous and could include the substitution of mineral and mineral-based imports; the development of basic fertiliser minerals for regional agricultural sector, the regional rationalisation of the iron, steel and ferro-alloys sector to provide the basic inputs for an indigenous capital goods sector; the retention of further value-added in the region through cross-border mineral beneficiation and mineral transformation projects; the regional rationalisation of mining and mineral processing manpower training programmes; intra-regional cooperation in mineral exploration projects and the establishment of regional research and development facilities to localise mining technologies; the creation of mineral finance mechanisms that bring together the resources of the region allowing investment in major minerals development projects without resorting to the transnational companies; the development of a regional minerals fiscal and legislative regime to maximise the capture of mineral rents by the state and the establishment of a regional strategy towards the mining transnational corporations. However, to realise these regional objectives the SADCC will have to move on from its current project approach to greater trade integration with some form of currency convertibility. The project approach served the region well for the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, but for realisation of the full potential of the regional mineral sector as the basis for industrialisation, greater regional integration would be necessary.