Southern Africa is now part of a movement following high level talks held in Johannesburg on 3 November 2011 on regional integration. The talks were convened by the Southern African Trust
and the dialogue was opened by Mrs Graca Machel. The talks focussed on regional integration and how best to improve the economic and social conditions in Southern Africa.
Let us consider a more detailed definition of Regional Integration. According to Europa, summaries of European Union Legislation, regional integration is the process of overcoming by common accord, political, economic and social barriers that divide countries from their neighbors and of collaborating in the management of shared resources and common regional goals. It seems that such an agreement would have tremendous benefit for the poor.
The plan with the dialogue is to find ways to initiate opportunities that can be exploited by Southern Africans. Such a project has already been initiated by regions like the European Union. The meeting was convened by the Southern African Trust, with financial support from the Flemish government.
Additionally, the European Union is sited not only as an example, but as a model of a region that has applied and utilised the principle of regional integration and improved its trade relations. However regional integration also impacts negatively if an economy is experiencing economic difficulties. For instance, Greece’s debt crisis has a negative impact on the entire EU region currently.
In a country where over 40% of the population lives in poverty our view is that this kind of dialogue, coupled with swift action, is desperately needed.
Furthermore, according to Southern Africa Trust, the lives of Southern Africans determine the future for our societies, but across Southern Africa young people experience many challenges, including having no jobs, suffering from HIV and AIDS and violence.
Indeed, where countries establish and honour a common understanding and allow free movement of goods and services, poverty can be eradicated and this fosters a regional economic boom. These talks provide a platform to shape further discussions around regional integration.
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