“Let us remain committed to SADC’s regional integration agenda”
The benefits of belonging to a shared community in southern Africa will reach the lives of many people if countries in the region remain committed to implementing all regional activities, programmes and projects within agreed timeframes.
This was said by the incoming chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers, Prince Hlangusemphi at the opening ceremony of the SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials meeting on 22 August in Mbabane, the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Hlangusemphi, who is the Swazi Economic Planning and Development Minister, said the region has developed a number of vibrant and viable strategic documents aimed at advancing socio-economic development and regional integration.
These include the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP), which strives to develop an efficient, seamless and cost-effective transboundary infrastructure network to support socio-economic development in southern Africa.
The Energy Sector Plan of the RIDMP identifies a total of 73 power projects which, if implemented within the stipulated timeframe of 2012-2027, will increase generation capacity from the current 56,000 megawatts (MW) and ensure that the projected demand of 96,000MW is surpassed within the next 11 years, making the SADC region energy self-sufficient.
In addition to the RIDMP, the region has adopted other feasible strategies, including the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap and the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 that were approved by the SADC Extraordinary Summit held in Zimbabwe in 2015.
If fully implemented, the industrialization strategy has the capacity to accelerate the momentum towards strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of the economies of the region, turning the region into a manufacturing factory that is able to get more from its natural resources.
However, the challenges of slow implementation of these strategic documents by SADC countries has affected some of the regional activities, programmes and activities, resulting in most people in the region failing to fully realize maximum benefits of belonging to a shared community in southern Africa.
“Our peoples have very high expectations of all of us to ensure that all programmes are implemented within the agreed timeframes,” Hlangusemphi said.
He said it was critical for the region to continue working together and ensure that all targets towards achieving socio-economic development are met.
“It is only by working hard and cooperating with each other harmoniously that we can achieve regional integration.”
Outgoing chairperson of the SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials, Dr Taufila Nyamadzabo concurred, saying deeper regional integration in southern Africa hinges on the implementation of agreed decisions.
“It is important that we increase the pace of implementation and monitoring of our regional activities, programmes and projects,” said Nyamadzabo, who is the Secretary for Economic and Financial Policy in Botswana.
Incoming chairperson of the SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials, Bertram Stewart – the Principal Secretary for Economic Planning and Development in Swaziland – pledged to strengthen the push towards implementation of regional strategies.
The SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials meeting is one of a series of meetings to be held prior to the SADC Council of Ministers set for 26-27 August and 36th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit scheduled for 30-31 August, both in Mbabane.
The summit is expected to deliberate on a wide range of issues, including how the region could mobilize resources to support the development of energy infrastructure in southern Africa.
At the summit, SADC leaders will also review the general global and regional economic situation, including a review of the implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area involving two other regional economic communities, namely the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community.
With regard to the political situation, the leaders are expected to receive a report from the outgoing chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi.
The report will discuss the situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as an update on the mediation process in Lesotho.
The theme for the 36th SADC Summit, “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation for the Prosperity of the Region”, will focus on how the region could mobilize resources to improve energy infrastructure development.
The theme continues the industrialization trajectory of the last two summits hosted by Zimbabwe in 2014 and Botswana in 2015, which focused on economic transformation and sustainable development through beneficiation and value addition, and on transforming natural resources and human capital to boost sustainable development respectively.
At the summit, King Mswati III of Swaziland will assume the rotating SADC chair from President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana.