Leaders of the Southern African Development Community have ended a summit, promising to improve cross-border cooperation and battle food shortages.
The bloc's new chairman, Botswanan President Festus Mogae, called on members Thursday to begin implementing plans for a free trade zone and a monetary union.
The summit in Botswana's capital, Gaborone, also focused on efforts to relieve food emergencies in several nations hit by drought.
Analysts say some 10 million people in Southern Africa are in need of food aid.
Some activists expressed disappointment that the summit failed to discuss the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
Officials at the two-day summit approved the bloc's 14th member, the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.