Building capacity to help Africa trade better

SADC Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology meet in Lilongwe, Malawi


SADC Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology meet in Lilongwe, Malawi

SADC Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology meet in Lilongwe, Malawi
Photo credit: Government of Malawi | SADC

The SADC Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology Sectors took place from 30th October to 3rd November 2017 at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi to consider the progress made in the sectors of Transport and Meteorology.

SADC Deputy Executive Secretary: Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, said in his opening remarks that “the implementation of the cross-border infrastructure projects should be a major preoccupation of the SADC’s political leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders because it may compromise the targeted regional integration, industrialization and structural transformation agenda of our community.” However, “[t]he current approach to managing regional transport infrastructure programmes does not sufficiently emphasise the importance of national ownership of the regional projects.”

“Many observers have argued that political will and ownership of regional programmes are lacking at national level. Evidence to support this includes the non-domestication of regional agreements,  failure to include reand budget for regional projects in national development plans and budgets and poor support to common institutions that we have created to coordinate and jointly manage regional programmes. Member States should be fully involved in decision-making on regional projects which should be integrated into national plans and be assigned budgets.

“The importance and necessity of regional cooperation is increasingly understood by our Member States. Regional cooperation plays a vital role in enabling Member States to achieve common goals set out by them, as well as specific goals set out under the main objective of the Transport and Meteorology Programme is to facilitate the deepening of the SADC regional integration as well as to address the over-arching objective of Poverty Reduction. Our political leadership carries the hope and aspirations of our people, who continue to look up to them to lift the quality of their lives until poverty is completely eradicated.

“The region has embarked on initiatives aimed at addressing challenges arising from the lack of availability and access to sound, cost effective, efficient transport infrastructure necessary to strengthen intra-SADC trade. Major focus remains on the development of SADC Regional Corridors, recognising the need for an integrated transport policy framework to achieve regional integration,” Dr. Mhlongo concluded.

In her opening statement, Ms. Manare Mamabolei, Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers Responsible for Transport and Meteorology, noted that “[t]ransport is the enabler of integration and therefore what we achieve in transport has consequences for the success of the integration project in its entirety. The sub-region and the continent is perceived well in developing new instruments, but regarded weak in implementing the existing treaties. We need to counter this perception by committing to prioritize implementation of existing agreements as opposed to developing new ones.”

“With the creation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area now at an advanced stage, a precursor to our Continental Free Trade Area which is under development, as well as the adoption of the industrialization pillar both at SADC and Tripartite level, the role of efficient, reliable seamless, safe and cost effective transport services as well as meteorological services cannot be overemphasized. As the Committee of Ministers responsible for these sub-sectors established through the Protocol on Transport, Telecommunications and Meteorology, it is our responsibility to review the progress the Sub-Sectoral Committee reported to us annually by the Committee of Senior Officials. From the review, we should reaffirm our commitments and provide direction for implementation.

“I understand the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TTTFP) that we approved in Livingstone, Zambia in 2015, was recently approved by COMESA Ministers for Infrastructure at their recent meeting in Lusaka, Zambia 3-4 October 2017. To complete the process, the inaugural meeting of Tripartite Ministers responsible for infrastructure endorsed the TTTFP and officially launched the programme on 26 October 2017 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. EAC was the first Region to approve the TTTFP in 2016.

“I am advised that the purpose of TTTFP is to develop and implement harmonised road transport policies, laws, regulations and standards for efficient cross border road transport and transit networks, transport and logistics services, systems and procedures in the Tripartite region. I am reminded of the OR Tambo International Road Transport Indaba where I was invited to deliver the Keynote Address. The event was attended by representatives from inland SADC countries, and it brought together key stakeholders in the trade and transport value chains with a view to hold constructive deliberations on how to improve the cross-border transport system, intra-Africa trade and enhance industrialisation in Africa.

“I am advised that Member States who attended the Indaba drafted the Linking Africa Plan which is aimed at providing interventions toward addressing trade and transport challenges, unlocking Africa’s economic growth and development; improving regional competitiveness, enhancing intra-Africa trade and industrialisation in the continent. I therefore hope that in future, Officials from Member States will submit the final Plan to Ministers through the SADC Secretariat for us to appreciate the alignment of the recommendations with our regional initiatives.

“[O]n the 10th October 2017, the day before the start of the Oliver Tambo International Road Transport Indaba, we held and concluded a workshop on the establishment of the Multilateral Cross-Border Road Transport Agreement. Through the MCBRTA, for those who may not have opened their eyes to this strategic development, through the MCBRTA, we seek to march the region out of the binding limitations of bilateral road transport and trade agreements. Our strategic intent is to move towards the development of a more progressive, and strategic, multilateral agreement that will commit all of us to a common governance framework for entire SADC region. Our ultimate intent is to progressively move toward a common governance framework for the tripartite Free Trade Agreement, committing SADC, EAC and COMESA. It is our firm view that without the MCBRTA, we will not be able to achieve a common, consistent and reliable governance framework for the TFTA area. We therefore urge all the forward and progressive thinking countries to work together to make the realisation of the Multilateral Cross-Border Road Transport Association a reality. Our hope is that through this structure, we will ensure the realisation of the objectives of harmonisation and systematic achievement of common objectives for all SADC, EAC and COMESA member-states.

“While some considerable progress was made last year in the transport and meteorology sectors much more needs to be done to provide the seamless, efficient and cost-effective services. We will therefore during this meeting be reviewing recommendations by the Committee of Senior Officials and make decisions aimed at expediting the implementation of the sectors’ program,” she concluded.

Meeting of SADC Ministers Responsible for Transport & Meteorology: Communiqué

3 November 2017

1. Background

The 2017 edition of the SADC meeting of Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology Sectors took place from 30th October to 3rd November 2017. The Government of Malawi hosted the meeting at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi. SADC holds annual Sector Ministers meetings as part of the governance and programme management strategy. The purpose of the meeting was to consider the progress made in the sectors of Transport and Meteorology in the implementing the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology and the derivative policies and programmes and to provide guidance to implementing national, corridor and regional institutions including the Secretariat. The meetings of Beira Development Corridor and North South Corridor at Ministerial level and the Maputo Development Corridors at technical and Senior Officials levels preceded the meeting of Ministers responsible for Transport and Meteorology.

2. The Transport Sector

The SADC Transport Sector is composed of road and rail transport, ports, maritime and inland waterways, as well as air transport. The main areas of focus in the transport sector include infrastructure development, harmonisation of laws and policies, capacity building, and transport transit and trade facilitation. The development of the Free Trade Area, planned progressing to a Customs Union and ultimately a Common Market in SADC cannot be achieved without the development of Transport Infrastructure. The Transport Sector addresses the provision of adequate, integrated, safe and efficient infrastructure services in road, railways, civil aviation and maritime, ports and inland-waterways services.

3. Air Transport and Civil Aviation

The Meeting of Ministers reviewed progress in this sub sector, the noted in particular the establishment of the SADC Aviation Safety Organisation (SASO) hosted by the Kingdom of Swaziland and urged those Member States who have not yet signed the Charter establishing SASO to sign. Concerning the implementation of the SADC Civil Upper Airspace Management Centre (CUAMC) Project Ministers directed the Secretariat to ensure close collaboration with other RECs in the Tripartite (COMESA and EAC) on systems implementation to ensure seamlessness, interoperability and standardisation; and encouraged Member States to consider inter-state/bilateral harmonisation and interoperability. Ministers also reviewed the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) which concerns the Liberalization of Access to Air Transport in Africa and seeks to establish a Single African Air Transport Market by 2017 as decided by the AU Assembly. Ministers urged the SADC Secretariat to collaborate with the Tripartite Regional Economic Communities (COMESA, EAC and SADC) in the implementation of Yamoussoukro Decision.

4. Roads Infrastructure, Transport and Traffic

The high ratio of landlocked countries, the long distances to gateway ports, the lack of an integrated and liberalised road transport market in the East and Southern African region pose numerous obstacles and impediments to trade. Ministers noted that to bring a solution to the challenges the Tripartite Transport & Transit Facilitation Programmes (TTTFP) that they approved in 2015 has since been approved by COMESA and the EAC. Ministers also noted that the Tripartite Ministers responsible for Infrastructure launched the TTTFP on 26 October in Dar es Salaam Tanzania as it is a Tripartite flagship programme. SADC Secretariat on behalf of the Tripartite coordinates the programme. The TTTFP purpose is to develop and implement harmonised road transport policies, laws, regulations and standards for efficient cross border road transport and transit networks, transport and logistics services, systems and procedures in the Tripartite region.

5. Rail Infrastructure

Ministers noted that the North South Corridor Rail Study commenced in February 2017.The study will identify and prioritize projects for implementation in the short, medium and long-term necessary for the revitalisation of SADC railways. This is critical in order to correct the current skewed and unsustainable ratio of between road (90%) and rail (10%) in regional freight transport market share.

6. One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs)

Ministers reviewed progress on trade and transport facilitation, and in particular noted the following development;

  1. Beitbridge:Recently the Presidents of South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed to fast-track operationalisation of the Beitbridge One-Stop Border-Post (OSBP) and welcomed establishment of the Joint Technical Committees to develop the necessary legal framework for the OSBP.

  2. Kazungula Bridge: The on-going project consists of 3 packages, the road and bridge physical structure and the OSBP facilities on both sides of the Zambezi River which forms the border between Botswana and Zambia. Kazungula Bridge is scheduled for completion in January 2019, the OSBP on the Botswana side scheduled for completion in September 2018 and the OSBP on the Zambia side is scheduled to be completed in December 2019. Ministers also noted that both Botswana and Zambia have OSBP laws in place but what is now needed is the signing of an OSBP Bilateral Agreement between Zambia and Botswana and that this is in progress.

  3. Martins Drift/Groblers Bridge: Ministers noted that this border crossing, which is an alternate route on the NSC, is fast becoming a bottleneck and confirmed programme to upgrade the bridge and border facilities.

7. Maritime

Ministers noted the progress in the implementation of the following programme-Enhancing Maritime Connectivity Project (EMCP) in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean with Support from European Union 11th European Development Fund. The overall objective of the program is to increase value of trade within the region.

Ministers also noted that there is a need to develop a legal framework for regulating, coordinating and facilitating the sustained provision of global and regional coverage of meteorological observational data, products and services to address the continued and expanding requirements of the maritime user community, focusing on safety of life and property at the sea, integrated coastal management and societal impact over the Indian as well as Atlantic Ocean.

8. The Meteorology Sector

The Meteorological Sector’s main purpose is to establish meteorological systems and infrastructure that are fully integrated, efficient and cost effective to meet the requirements of the users, and to minimise adverse effects associated with the severe weather and climate phenomena.

  1. Ministers noted progress on implementation of programmes and projects.

  2. Ministers urged Member States that have not yet signed the Meteorological Association of Southern Africa (MASA) Constitution to do so as soon as possible in order to ensure operationalization of MASA.

  3. Ministers also noted that Member States are obliged to be compliant with the Quality Management System (QMS) standard for the provision of the aeronautical meteorological services to airlines. Non-compliance to the obligatory regulations on QMS of the Chigago Convention will have far reaching consequences on the Member States and could find their airspace declared unsafe for air travel by ICAO due to safety considerations. Therefore, Ministers have urged Member States which have not yet been ISO 9001-2008 or ISO 9001-2015 certified to take necessary and urgent action to comply to avoid their countries from being flagged as a high safety risk zone and be found looking revenues incurred on the air traffic.

9. SADC PIDA Acceleration Programme On Beira And North South Corridors

Ministers responsible for the above two corridors met and made the following decisions and observations concerning progress on the implementation of projects the Beira and North South Corridors (NSC):

  1. Signing of the MoU on the Establishment of a Corridor Management Institution for the North South Corridor. Ministers noted progress on signing the MoU where 3 Corridor States had already signed and urged other to do once they have completed their internal processes. The MoU envisages the establishment of a corridor management institution to coordinate project design, development and implementation and the resolution of barriers to trade and transport on the corridor. The NSC is the busiest regional transport corridor in SADC carrying 60% of regional traffic and serving 7 countries i.e Botswana, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. NSC is a multimodal corridor anchored on the port of Durban in South Africa

  2. Signing of the Agreement on the Beira Development Corridor. Minister noted progress on development of the Corridor and noted that 2 Corridor States had already signed the MoU. The other Corridor States countries have assurances that they are on course to sign once they have completed internal process. Beira Development Corridor is anchored on the Port of Beira in central Mozambique and serves Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and DRC. It is also planned to establish a corridor management body to be hosted by one of the corridor states. Ministers approved the options for setting up the NSC and BDC Corridor Management Institutions and the Road Maps and approved the BDC and NSC List of Minimum Requirements for hosting the BDC and NSC Management Institutions.

  3. PIDA Week. Ministers noted that the 2017 edition of the NEPAD PIDA Week aimed at highlighting infrastructure development in Africa would be hosted by Namibia. PIDA Week is hosted on a rotational basis and this year is SADC’s turn. Ministers agreed to support Namibia and to participate in PIDA Week activities and meetings from 10-14 December 2017 in Swakopmund, Namibia.

10. Conclusions

Ministers analyzed the sluggish implementation of the cross-border infrastructure projects through the lens of national ownership of the regional programmes. They concluded that regional cross-border infrastructure, particularly in the areas of transport, and meteorology, has the potential to facilitate intra-regional trade and investment; unlock national and regional comparative advantages. Ministers underscored the need to address the special needs of landlocked countries to access the rest of the world. The Ministers concluded that partnership is the main strategy to implement these regional projects. They also agreed that placing regional projects on the national agenda is the core of creating an enabling environment, because these projects only kick off after they get attention of national politicians and policy makers.


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