Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Transport, ICT, Information and Meteorology met on July 9 July 2021 to discuss infrastructure development in support of regional integration and development.
The meeting was officially opened by the Janfar Abdulai, Minister of Transport and Communications of Mozambique, who is also Chairperson of the SADC Committee of Ministers Responsible for Transport, ICT, Information and Meteorology.
Minister Abdulai said Mozambique was committed to implementation of SADC decisions and initiatives aimed at capitalising on its potential in the transport and communications sector. He noted that the year 2021 had witnessed completion of projects such as construction of the Kazungula Bridge linking Botswana and Zambia; the launch of the SADC Centre for Humanitarian and Emergency Operations in Mozambique; and installation of meteorological equipment in SADC member states to improve the early warning system and ICT capacity in meteorology.
He said Mozambique’s geostrategic location and the existence of a complex of road, rail and port infrastructure gave the country enhanced accountability in the region, especially in logistics for imports and exports from hinterland member states.
In the communications field, he said, the region faced challenges to meet the goals of promoting access to broadband to reduce the digital divide and accelerate development. The COVID-19 pandemic demanded quality in telecommunications to enable telework, therefore there was a need for these goals to be achieved immediately and not in 2025 as planned.
Minister Abdulai challenged SADC to harmonise and complement the different strategies and actions for greater efficiency and effectiveness in provision of meteorological and hydrological services.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax highlighted notable achievements recorded in the transport, ICT, information, and meteorology sectors. These include effective implementation of the Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology, where a number of programmes and projects have been implemented, including the development of Model Legislative Provisions (MLPs) that have served as guidelines for implementation of agreed policies.
A SADC Corridor Management Strategy was approved in 2008, and has served as the basic framework for cooperation and co-ordination in transport integration. The corridors strategy focuses on developing legal instruments for joint governance of corridors; institutional frameworks for joint and coordinated management of transport corridors; and prioritisation and implementation of critical corridor transport and logistics infrastructure.
In the ICT sector, the region saw establishment of two cross-border terrestrial optical fibre links for regional and international transit traffic, and 26 SADC Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), a vital component of the Internet eco-system, accounting for 57 percent share of the IXPs in Africa.
The establishment of the SADC Climate Services Centre has contributed to the enhancement of the capacity of the Region in production and dissemination of timely and credible meteorological and climate information that is used for socio-economic planning, and disaster risk management.
As the bloc prepares for the post-pandemic era and to implement SADC Vision 2050 and the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-30, Dr Tax urged member states to redouble their efforts to harness the potential of digital technologies for socio-economic growth and development. On this note, Dr Tax noted that as the Region makes advances in ICT, it was also exposed to potential cyber threats and risks, and therefore urged Member States to expedite the review and modernisation of the SADC cyber-security model laws, and to put in place National Cyber Security Strategy so as to secure the cyberspace and unlock the full potential of the digital transformation.
In the postal sector, the Executive Secretary commended member states for the ongoing postal digital transformation efforts which are aimed at ensuring long-term relevancy and diversity of the sector.
Key outcomes of the Ministers’ meeting
- The Ministers approved the following ICT related instruments
- Revised SADC Roaming Regulations Revised SADC Radio Frequency Spectrum Allocation Plan (RFSAP)
- SADC Radio Frequency Spectrum Model Policy;
- SADC Framework for Harmonisation of Radio Frequencies for the Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR);
- Position Paper – SADC Member States Acceding to the Tampere Convention;
- Universal Access and Service Guidelines for the Electronic Communications Sector in SADC;
- SADC ICT Quality of Service (QoS)/ Quality of Experience (QoE) Guidelines.
- SADC Interconnection and Postal Network Access Guidelines;
- SADC Postal Market Definition and Licensing Guidelines;
- Roadmap and Guidelines for Transformation to Advanced Internet Exchange Points (IXPs);
- SADC Model Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between National Statistics Office (NSO), National Regulatory Authority (NRA) and/or Ministry of ICT (MICT) for data collection for the SADC ICT Observatory and for Member States to put the MOU into place by December 2021.
- The Ministers urged Member States to establish their National Computer Incident Response Teams (CIRTs) by December 2021. CIRTs serve as a national focus point for co-ordinating cybersecurity incident response to cyber-attacks in the country.
- In the Transport Sector, the Ministers approved the establishment of the SADC Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety (SANRS) application for consultative membership to the Roads, Road Transport and Road Traffic Committee.
- Ministers urged member states to sign the SADC Air Safety Organisation (SASO) Charter to enable full its operationalisation and countries not yet members of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to expedite actions for signature for optimisation of benefits from Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); and to effectively participate in African Union programmes and projects on aviation related matters.
- As part of the implementation of the SADC Corridors Development Strategy, the Ministers noted construction of transport corridors and One Stop Border Post (OSBP) between SADC Member States which include Kazungula Bridge and OSBP between Botswana and Zambia, Mwami/Mchinji OSBP between Zambia and Malawi, Tunduma OSBP between United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, and Beitbridge OSBP between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
- On meteorology, ministers called for the strengthening of the cooperation between SADC and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the Ministers encouraged Member States to collaborate with WMO to enhance delivery of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to better serve society and socio-economic needs.
Regarding the Meteorological Association of Southern Africa (MASA) which was established to, among others, promote the development, establishment and operation of efficient, affordable and accessible meteorological services within the SADC region, the Ministers noted the offer by the United Republic of Tanzania to host the MASA Secretariat. – SADC