All systems go for SADC Summit

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Namibia’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has given the green light for the 38thSADC Summit scheduled to start today in Windhoek.

By late Wednesday, President Hage Geingob was keen to know how the preparations were going by phoning Nandi-Ndaitwah shortly after the conclusion of the Council of Ministers’ Meeting at Safari Hotel.

Nandi-Ndaitwah, who was tasked by President Geingob to ensure that Namibia hosts a successful summit and leave a long-lasting legacy, told The Southern Times that preparatory meetings have all gone well.

Officials from all SADC member states have since last week, flew into Namibia in preparations for the Summit.

Last Thursday, the process started with the handing over of the SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials’ chairpersonship by South Africa’s Director-General of International Relations and Cooperation, Kgabo Mahoai to Namibia’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Selma Ashipala-Musavyi.

This was followed by the finance committee meeting on Friday. On Saturday, the standing committee of senior officials adopted the annotated agenda for the council of ministers.

On Monday, 13 August, the council of ministers met for the first time in a meeting that spilt to the following day, where the adoption of the record of the council of ministers was made.

On Wednesday this week, ministers signed some agreements.  By yesterday, heads of state and government arrived in Windhoek. Organ troika senior officials, the ministerial committee of the organ (MCO) and summit meetings also happened yesterday.

Nandi-Ndaitwah, who was locked in a meeting for about an hour with State House chief of protocol, Leonard Iipumbu, late on Wednesday said Namibia is ready and it is all systems go for the Summit.

“We are ready to accommodate them. The council of ministers has already prepared the document although the organ troika is still to finish up (late on Thursday). The legacy we want to leave behind is the concrete follow up and strengthening of the industrialisation strategy,” she said, adding that “Again, I repeat, we are ready to accommodate the heads of state and host the Summit. All systems go!”

This year’s summit is being held under the theme: “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.  

Nandi-Ndaitwah said officials must take the theme seriously, as there is a need to completely integrate the youth into the economy because they are leaders of tomorrow.

In 2014, the region signed the SADC Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment. Although the Declaration commits member states to economically empower the youth, there are no clearly defined action plans that accompany it.

“It is important to remind ourselves that the youth represents the largest proportion of our nations,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.

The Commonwealth 2016 Global Youth Development Index ranked SADC member states very low. Nandi-Ndaitwah said such an outcome underscores the need for an action plan to accompany the 2014 declaration that could implement and rollout activities aimed at mainstreaming youth empowerment to speed up the industrialisation process.

Prior to the start of the Summit today, a number of issues were discussed. These issues relate principally to SADC’s priority programmes contained in the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2015-2020 (RISDP); the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO II); and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.

Prior to the Summit, the SADC Council of Ministers endorsed the 38th SADC theme proposed by the Namibian government, in its capacity as the incoming Chair of SADC: “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development,” for recommendation to the Summit.

The council directed the SADC Secretariat to expedite the process of completing the assignments of reviewing existing institutional arrangements within SADC. Also developing an effective mechanism to monitor and ensure compliance to SADC Protocols and other legal instruments and regional commitments at member state level; and finalise and operationalise the Private Sector Engagement Mechanism (PSEM) in collaboration with regional and national private sector associations.

Council also directed the Secretariat to submit the comprehensive review report on the implementation of the Revised RISDP 2015-2020 during its meeting to be held in August 2019, and urged members states to focus on implementing activities that are within the approved Implementation Frameworks of the revised 2015-2020 RISD) and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO).

Council directed the Secretariat to operationalise the SADC Regional Gas Committee; to develop the SADC Regional Gas Master Plan and urged member states to nominate members of the SADC Regional Gas Committee.

Outgoing chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Lindiwe Silulu, said in order to optimally achieve the objectives set out in the work programme, officials need to further strengthen and cultivate private sector involvement.

“The role of our governments is to put in place policies and initiatives that would create an enabling environment for the private sector to grow.  We are catalysts, something which should be appreciated by member states so that our investment, trade and industrial policies are able to shape incentives to attract private sector involvement.

Silulu said it is for this reason that they have taken a very proactive approach to engage the private sector in the SADC regional integration agenda.

“Efforts are underway to develop a cooperation framework for private sector participation of businesses operating in SADC.”

 

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