By Kizito Sikuka
Leaders from Southern Africa are meeting for their annual summit next week to chart the development agenda of the region.
Running under the theme “A Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-Regional Trade and Job Creation”, the summit will deliberate on a wide range of issues, including reviewing progress made towards achieving the longstanding vision of a united, prosperous and integrated region.
This article looks at some of the major issues expected to be discussed by the 39th SADC Summit scheduled for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 17-18 August.
Taking stock of the industrialisation agenda
One of the major highlights will be a progress report on the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063, which was adopted in 2015 to unlock the industrial potential of the region.
Industrialisation is a top priority for Southern Africa, and since 2014 all SADC summits have focused on how the region can attain industrial development.
In this regard, the summit will receive a progress report on how member states are implementing various measures to accelerate economic growth through industrial development.
As per the theme of the 39th SADC Summit, member states will between August 2019 and August 2020 focus on creating a conducive environment to allow the private sector and other citizens of the region to actively participate in and fully benefit from measures aimed at advancing the industrialisation agenda.
In a bid to enhance the level of industrial development, both nationally and regionally, and in pursuit of ensuring the attainment of unified goals and cohesion among member states’ industrialisation policies and strategies, SADC is developing a Protocol on Industry, which is set to be completed by August 2019.
The protocol will be a binding instrument that will entrench and give legal effect to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap and will ensure adequate coordination, monitoring and evaluation of implementation.
The proposed protocol is expected to strengthen the level of industrial development in the region and facilitate the harmonisation of policies and strategies in member states.
Where member states already have such policies and strategies in place, these should be reviewed and aligned to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
Food security situation
Summit is expected to approve measures to address food insecurity after a poor harvest during the 2018/19 agricultural season.
The SADC region has a cereal deficit of more than 5.4 million tonnes this year following subdued rainfall during the just-ended season, according to a Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa.
The report indicates that an estimated 41.2 million people are food-insecure in 13 SADC member states this year.
Summit is expected to approve strategies for addressing the food security, including assisting affected populations with food supplies as well as providing emergency livestock supplementary feeding to save livestock, and importing grain to supplement their reduced yields.
Another key issue for discussion is progress towards implementation of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP).
Approved in 2012, the RIDMP is the strategy for the development of integrated regional infrastructure in Southern Africa at an estimated cost of more than US$500 billion to meet projected demand by 2027.
Implementation of the RIDMP is being done in three phases, covering the Short Term Action Plan (STAP) 2012-2017, the Medium Term Action Plan that runs up to 2022, and the Long Term Action Plan to be implemented up to 2027.
Preliminary findings of a study commissioned by the SADC Secretariat show that the implementation of most STAP projects is behind schedule.
Post-2020 SADC agenda
SADC has begun the process of formulating a new development vision to succeed the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) that was approved in 2015 and runs until 2020.
The review process is expected to lead to the development of a framework for the post-2020 regional strategy that takes into account SADC Principles and Common Principles as well as global and continental processes such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
With one year left until the 2020 SADC Summit (the 40th), the 39th Summit is expected to review progress towards the development of the post-2020 SADC Agenda.
In this regard, a progress report is set to be presented to the heads of state and government for deliberation.
Gender equality and empowerment are firmly rooted in the SADC Declaration and Treaty that established the shared community of SADC.
Member states fully realise that the equality and empowerment of both women and men is crucial for the attainment of sustainable development.
Significant progress has been made towards gender equality in the region, but more needs to be done.
In this regard, the summit is expected to explore ways of intensifying its efforts to promote gender equality and ensure that both women and men play an active role in advancing regional integration.
Strengthening peace and security
On the political front, the leaders are expected to discuss the peace and security situation in the region.
The region has generally enjoyed stability despite some pockets of volatility in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kingdom of Lesotho and Madagascar.
Summit is expected to take stock of interventions undertaken by the region to promote peace and stability in these and other member states.
To ensure there is a strong linkage between early warning and early action, SADC has established the Regional Early Warning Centre and the region successfully deployed many strategic teams which have had a positive impact.
Most recent was the SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho, which was deployed in November 2017 to stabilise the fragile and unpredictable political and security situation in the country, and successfully completed its mission in November 2018.
This supported the deployment of the SADC Oversight Committee to Lesotho and the team supporting the SADC Facilitator to assist in the national dialogue and the roadmap for reforms.
Sustainable financing of regional integration
Another issue that remains high on the agenda for the Summit is the need for SADC to put in place sustainable financing models to drive forward its regional agenda.
It is estimated that only around 10 percent of regional projects are funded by SADC member states while the balance comes from international cooperating partners. This situation has compromised the sustainability of regional programmes.
The Secretariat was directed by the 38th SADC Summit to finalise the draft SADC Regional Resources Mobilisation Framework, which determines how fiscal space can be created to enable member states to finance regional activities, programmes and projects.
A progress report on the draft SADC Regional Resources Mobilisation Framework is, therefore, expected to be presented to the leaders for discussion.
Continental Free Trade Area
Summit is expected to discuss how member states can fully benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that entered into force in May.
AfCFTA is an enlarged market that brings together all the 55 AU member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.
The AfCFTA will build on the existence of other FTAs in the continent such as the SADC FTA and the pending “Grand” FTA involving the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community and SADC.
Establishment of the AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects or initiatives under Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want, which is a continental vision and strategic framework adopted by the AU in 2013 to optimize the use of the continent’s resources for the benefit of all Africans. - sardc.net.