Southern Times Writer
The SADC Council of Ministers has directed the regional bloc's secretariat to operationalise the SADC Regional Gas Committee and to develop the region's gas master plan.
Briefing the media ahead of the 38th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Windhoek, Namibia, this week, Namibia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said the council and urged member states to nominate members of the SADC Regional Gas Committee.
Southern Africa, which has some of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world, is exploring ways of harnessing the potential of the massive reserves of natural gas that exist in the region.
Experts say Angola has natural gas reserves estimated at 11 trillion cubic feet (tcf), while Mozambique has more than 180 tcf of gas discovered and there is potential for this to be doubled by 2030.
Tanzania has made significant gas discoveries and currently has more than 57 tcf of proven gas reserves.
In Namibia, there is about 1.3 tcf of proven gas reserves with an estimated potential of 9 tcf.
Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe have unconventional gas reserves in significant quantities in the form of coal-bed methane and shale gas.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the council noted progress on the implementation of visa exemptions and commended member states that have taken initiatives to operationalise bilateral visa exemptions, and those that have not done so to expedite the negotiations and report on progress at the next meeting in August 2019.
"Council urged member states to continuously intensify their advocacy and lobbying campaigns on gender parity as per the provision in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and to create a conducive environment and supporting structures for women to join and stay in politics and positions of decision making," she said.
Nandi-Ndaitwah took over the chairship of the council from South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Lindiwe Sisulu.
The SADC Council of Ministers oversees the functioning and development of the 16-member regional bloc and ensures that policies are properly implemented.
It consists of ministers from each of the SADC member states, usually Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economic Planning, or Finance, and it meets twice a year in February or March and immediately prior to the summit in August or September.
Namibia took over the chairmanship of SADC from South Africa, with its president, Hage Geingob, now the new SADC chairperson.
The Council of Ministers meeting this week was preceded by a series of meetings, which included the SADC human resources and administration committee; the audit committee; and the finance committee whose deliberations informed the discussions of the Council of Ministers and the SADC Standing Committee of senior officials.
On 11 and 12 August, the SADC Directorates of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security; Infrastructure; Industrial Development and Trade; Food Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR); Social and Human Development (SHD) had an opportunity to brief the media on the implementation of SADC’s priority areas of industrial development and market integration; infrastructure in support of regional integration; peace and security cooperation; special programme and regional integration. The objective of the briefings was to hence awareness and visibility on SADC programmes.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said during the meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers a number of issues were discussed. These issues related principally to the region'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.