… Amid hopes of deeper regional integration, better implementation
NAMIBIA will host the 38th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in August, which is poised to underline the region’s 2018 goal to intensify efforts to deepen economic integration, as well as achieve sustainable development and stability.
Imperatively, at the summit, President Hage Geingob will take over the SADC chairpersonship from his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, at a summit that will also mark the first time that the newest member of SADC – the Union of Comoros – will participate at this high-level regional meeting.
Comoros was formally admitted into the organisation at the 37th SADC Summit, held in August last year in Pretoria, South Africa, thereby increasing the membership of the regional bloc to 16.
Buoyed by the relative peace and political stability that has characterised the region over the past few years, as well as the smooth transition of power experienced in three member states last year – Angola, the Kingdom of Lesotho and Zimbabwe – the SADC region will seek to maintain the same peaceful and tolerant atmosphere in 2018, when at least four countries hold elections.
The region is set to strengthen efforts to implement programmes and projects, aimed at meeting various key milestones, including those on infrastructure development and industrialisation.
In line with the theme of the 37th SADC Summit, member states are expected to pursue programmes and projects aimed at promoting industrial development in the focus areas of agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals.
The 2017 Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government was held under the theme, ‘Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains’.
As per tradition, the theme will be the rallying point for most activities undertaken by the region until the 38th summit, scheduled for Namibia in August.
During the coming year, countries in the region are expected to create a mechanism for the involvement of the private sector in the rollout of the economic integration agenda.
Public-private partnerships are regarded as a viable model for attracting investment for public projects, by allowing governments to have more access to additional capital and off-balance sheet financing.
The year 2018 will mark the second year of the implementation of the Costed Action Plan of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, a 48-year blueprint that outlines proposals on the transformation of the region, from a resource-based economy to one that is driven by innovation and high industrial productivity.
The Costed Action Plan on Industrialisation, approved by the SADC Extraordinary Summit in Swaziland in March 2017, allocated about US$100 million for coordination of the industrialisation agenda, at the level of SADC Secretariat and member states, over a 15-year period, extending from 2015 to 2030.
It seeks to establish a coherent and synergistic implementation scheme, containing strategic options and general policies towards the progressive attainment of time-bound targets, set out in the strategy and roadmap.
The action plan aims to create an enabling environment for sustaining industrial development as a driver of economic transformation; and seeks to establish an enduring alliance for industrialisation, consisting of the public and private sectors, as well as strategic partners.
Strategic interventions proposed under the action plan include an improved policy environment for industrial development, increased volume and efficiency of public and private sector investments in the SADC economy, the creation of regional value chains and participation in related global processes, as well as increased value-addition for agricultural and non-agricultural products and services.
In order to improve the operating environment, there are plans to develop and operationalise a Protocol on Industry by 2020, which should lead to the development of industrialisation policies and strategies at national level.
Where member states already have such policies and strategies, these should be reviewed and aligned to the industrialisation strategy and roadmap.
To encourage the creation of regional value chains and the participation in global processes, the region has identified five priority areas in which the value chains can be established and for which regional strategies should be developed by 2020.
These are in the areas of agro-processing, minerals beneficiation, consumer goods, capital goods, and services.
A detailed value chain study is proposed for specific products or services in the priority areas.
As part of the process of promoting value chain participation, there are plans to develop model legislation and regulations for intra-SADC agro-processing, minerals beneficiation and other manufacturing activities and services.
A related and complementary activity expected to be undertaken during the coming year will be the operationalisation of the proposed SADC University of Transformation, the brainchild of King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The university will be a regional institution to train citizens in innovation and entrepreneurship, as part of efforts to transform Southern Africa into an industrialised region.
Swaziland has offered to host the training institution and pledged to offer scholarships to 300 students – 20 each per member state – for the initial intake.
On energy development, SADC is set to establish a regional Inter-State Natural Gas Committee that will be charged with ensuring the inclusion and promotion of natural gas in the regional energy mix and with facilitating “an increase in universal access to energy, as well as industrial development in SADC”.
Efforts will be stepped up towards ensuring that the first-ever surplus electricity-generation capacity time experienced by SADC last year, in over a decade, is maintained through the commissioning of new power-generation projects.
The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) has already indicated that it will commission an average of 5 000 megawatts (MW) per year over the next six years.
Southern Africa has experienced surplus electricity generation capacity of around 900MW since the beginning of last year.
The surplus is partly due to a slowdown in the South African economy, but is also the result of the coordinated approach in implementation of the SADC energy programme, which has seen a number of new power plants commissioned over the past few years.
With regard to gender development, SADC will celebrate 10 years since the adoption of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. The protocol was revised in 2016.
The region is expected to take stock of achievements made and challenges encountered, during past decade.
Agriculture and food security will remain a top priority for SADC, following a slow start to the agricultural season.
At the continental level, the SADC region will work with other regional economic communities to conclude efforts to operationalise the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), as well as establish the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
At least 24 of the 27 countries have signed the agreement to establish the TFTA, which aims to facilitate the smooth movement of goods and services across borders, as well as allowing member countries to harmonise regional trade policies to promote equal competition.
Negotiations for the CFTA were expected to conclude by the end of 2017. However, various challenges affected the discussions, and expectations are that concrete agreements will be finalised during the year.
When operational, the CFTA will bring together all 54 African countries, creating a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion
On environmental issues, the region will begin the process of reviewing achievements and challenges in the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan (SAP IV) on Integrated Water Resources, Development and Management (2016-2020).
As SADC recognises the importance of sustainable use and management of the environment, in the fight against poverty and food security, the region is set to assess the domestication of the SADC Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development of 2014.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015