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VICTORIA FALLS Cheap Mattia De Sciglio Jersey , Zimbabwe, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- If trade used to dominate discussions on regional integration, leaders in southern Africa have now decided to give industrialization a boost.

A communique issued after the 34th Summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC), which ended in the Zimbabwean resort town of Victoria Falls on Monday, said industrialization should "take center stage" in SADC's regional integration agenda.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe emphasized the importance of balance between industrialization and trade as he took over the chair of the 15-member regional bloc.

"Failure to do that will result in a region which has worked on market liberalization but without the requisite goods to sell," he said.

For a long time Cheap Matteo Gabbia Jersey , southern African countries have heavily relied on imports from South Africa, also a member of the SADC. In Zimbabwe alone, supermarkets are stocked with South African imports, which account for almost 90 percent of the goods on the shelves.

"We appealed to South Africa, which is highly industrialized, to lead us Cheap Matias Fernandez Jersey , to work with us, cooperate with us, and not just to regard the rest of the continent as an open market for products from South Africa," Mugabe said.

The SADC region is home to an array of mineral resources, but it remains severely underdeveloped and heavily relies on exportation of raw materials to prop up its economies.

According to an SADC report on industrial policy and strategies, approximately 85 percent of the region's non-petrol exports are raw mineral and agricultural goods.

Munetsi Madakufamba Cheap Mateo Musacchio Jersey , executive director of the Harare-based Southern African Research and Documentation Center (SARDC), said the SADC and the rest of Africa have no choice but to break from the current consumption and commodity exports development path to a more sustainable development model based on industrial competitiveness.

He said economies built on a weak economic infrastructure base -- including poor road, rail and air networks, power shortages, lack of access to appropriate modern technologies, and lack of access to affordable capital for investment in industrial development -- remain the main challenges.

Responding to a question from Xinhua after the summit Cheap Mario Pasalic Jersey , Mugabe said he will seek more Chinese investment to fund infrastructure development and value-addition projects in the region.

He said the way forward is to target the development of high priority infrastructure projects.

"We, at the same time, actively engage targeted investors and financiers with celebrated track records," he added. "Emphasis should therefore be on cooperation in the implementation of cross-border infrastructure projects."

According to the 2014 UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) world investment report, the SADC economy received 13 billion U.S. dollars of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2013, up from 4.5 billion dollars in 2000. As the figure grows Cheap Marco Storari Jersey , China has emerged as one of the SADC's primary FDI sources.

Across the region, Chinese companies are building roads, dams, power stations and factories.

Rangarirai Machemedze of the SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organizations said there are huge opportunities for China in the SADC's ambition to develop cross-border infrastructure.

"I am seeing, in this case, a role for the Chinese and other progressive partners who want to partner SADC in developing this kind of infrastructure. There is no way you can leave out China in the development of this infrastructure Cheap Manuel Locatelli Jersey ," Machemedze said.

Madakufamba, from the SARDC, said weak and disconnected infrastructure was one of the biggest challenges hindering regional integration and development, not only in the sub-region of the SADC, but in Africa as a whole.

He noted that the region has come up with a five-year revised Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) in which the flagship special development project -- the North-South Corridor Project -- needs to be supported by development partners.

The corridor project is a comprehensive initiative that covers road, rail Cheap Lucas Ocampos Jersey , sea ports, border posts, energy infrastructure improvement, trade and transport facilitation.

Some of the planned corridor programs include the construction of more than 8,000 km of road, rehabilitation of 600 km of rail track and upgrading of the Dar es Salaam port Cheap Lucas Biglia Jersey , one of the biggest ports in Africa.

The project also includes power projects like the construction of the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya transmission line and the Zambia-Democratic Republic of Congo Interconnector project.

"Gone are the days when decisions on flow of capital into Africa were dictated by the former colonial metropolises," Madakufamba said, explaining that the arrival of China and other BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa -- on the global stage has democratized access to capital and widened options.

In the eyes of Machemedze, it was now up to the SADC to put in place the regulatory environment that will enable the infrastructure to be developed with "clear standards Cheap Luca Antonelli Jersey , targets and quality assurance adherence."

He emphasized that such infrastructure must serve the interests of the 290 million people in the region and address inequality within and between countries in the region.

By Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- The City of Athens' Carnival festivities kicked off this weekend with a variety of activities aiming to offer Athenians and visitors of all ages a message of optimism, despite the gloom of the prolonged economic crisis.

In the sixth year of recession local authorities have cut down on the number and size of events scheduled for the three-week celebration running to Clean Monday compared to pre-crisis years.

But the joy and determination to enjoy life remain with Greek people, unaffected by adverse circumstances.

"The joy remains with .