The private sector is one of the key stakeholders in economic development, as it is a major contributor to national income and the principal job creator and employer. It also contributes to job creation by providing around 90% of employment in low to middle income countries (including formal and informal jobs), delivering essential goods and services and contributing to tax revenues and the efficient flow of capital (Avis W. R, 2016). Research and development expenditure, collaboration with tertiary institutions and technology diffusion that comes with foreign direct investment enhance the role of private sector in the development agenda. Through producing goods and services, the private sector contributes to national income and its role in the development agenda is therefore to stir economic activity which finances development. The development priorities of any country, depending on the context, have the potential to provide business opportunities for the private sector which makes the development agenda and business mutually enabling and beneficial.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) values the importance of the private sector in the broad objective of ensuring regional integration as a means for achieving developmental objectives of the region. As such, regional integration entails cooperation among SADC member States in various areas including trade, finance, infrastructure, tourism, health, education, peace and security, movement of people and a myriad of other transboundary issues. In this regard, the private sector is viewed as an important piece of the puzzle especially in catalysing economic growth as the SADC member states liberalise their economies. Thus SADC member states and the private sector have identified several areas in which private sector involvement can benefit the region as shown in Box 1 below.