TANZANIA’S economic performance has been described as a role model that other Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states should embrace after recording over 7 per cent growth last year.
Opening the 39th Ordinary Summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government in Dar es Salaam yesterday, SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, said although the general economic environment was relatively stable last year the macro-economic position of the region remained critical for the realisation of the goals set.
She said economic growth averaged 3.1 per cent in 2018 in the region compared to three per cent in 2017.
“Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Tanzania recorded strengthened growth levels, but only Tanzania met the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth target of 7 per cent in 2018,” Dr Tax said amidst a big round of applause from Tanzanian delegates, who attended the summit session yesterday.
Speaking on per capita GDP, Dr Tax said the income per person in the region had improved slightly from $4,004 in 2017 to $4,171 in 2018, with all member states, except one, recording growth.
According to her, analysis showed there was an improvement from only five member states namely, Botswana, the DRC, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania, which recorded growth the previous year (that is 2017).
On inflation, Tanzania again performed well as it was in the group of 10 SADC countries, whose annual inflation rate ranged between three and seven per cent last year.
According to Dr Tax, the annual inflation rate decreased to an average of 8.0 per cent in 2018 from 10.1 per cent in 2017, attributing the slowdown to, among other things, favourable weather conditions in some member states, low demand and stability in exchange rates.
“Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania met the inflation target range of 3-7 per cent,” she stressed.
In her speech, Dr Tax was quick to raise concern over poor investment level recorded last year, saying a downward trajectory in investments and savings registered since 2014 continued through 2018.
She said records showed the region had recorded investments of 22.8 per cent of GDP in 2018 compared to 24.4 per cent in 2017, an indication that the trend was taking a downward trajectory.
“Botswana, Lesotho, Seychelles, Tanzania and Zambia performed above the regional target of 30 per cent of GDP for investment,” she said.
On savings, Dr Tax said the region remained subdued at 19.9 per cent of GDP in 2018, lower than the 20.6 per cent realised in 2017, singling Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia as the only SADC countries in the region that had attained the regional savings target of 30 per cent in 2018.
She also spoke on fiscal deficit, saying it averaged at 3.1 per cent in 2018 compared to 4.3 per cent of GDP in 2017 with Angola, the DRC, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania meeting the fiscal deficit target of three per cent of GDP last year.
The public debt, she said, maintained an upward trend across all member states in 2018, where the region’s public debt increased to 48.8 per cent of GDP, slightly above the 47.8 per cent recorded in 2017.
She said the number of member states that met the regional target of public debt of 60 per cent of GDP remained constant at 11 in both 2017 and 2018.
The executive secretary also spoke on peace, security and stability in the region, saying the three aspects were essential for creating a conducive political and social environment for livelihoods to thrive and businesses to operate and flourish.
She said during the year, the region maintained its enviable record of peace, security and stability, consolidating democracy on the right trajectory.
However, she was quick to warn that while the SADC region enjoyed peace and tranquility, terrorism and other transnational crimes continued being matters of great concern with organised crime also posing a significant threat to peace and security and undermining regional economic integration.
“It is, therefore, imperative that SADC member states continue cooperating and undertaking joint initiatives to address this menace of great concern to all of us,” she urged.
She also spoke on gender-based violence (GBV), saying the malpractice continued to adversely impact on the socioeconomic development of the region.
She said a study conducted by the SADC Secretariat on GBV prevalence in the region, among other things, showed GBV was a common phenomenon in the SADC region.