The Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Work Bank have reiterated their commitment to strengthen partnership for regional economic integration amid the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
SADC has a regional integration programme, which has the aim to support economic growth and poverty alleviation in the region through various interventions in some selected areas of regional economic integration, including investment; cross-border payments; tax coordination; technical barriers to trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS).
Deepening the integration agenda of SADC is aimed at accelerating poverty eradication and the attainment of other economic and non-economic development goals.
Doubt been lingering as to whether, SADC partners would still be committed to support the regional integration at a time when Covid-19 continues to cause havoc in the global trade. However, the World Bank, which is one of SADC’s huge partners reaffirmed its commitment to the cause by aligning its new three-year Regional Integration Strategy to SADC’s regional priorities for the period July 2020 to June 2023, last week.
During the virtual consultative meeting held last month, the two parties underscored the need to strengthen collaboration to mitigate the socio-economic impact of Covid-19, which poses a risk to reverse progress made in reducing poverty and inequality.
According to the preliminary findings of Secretariat’s analysis of the socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 in the SADC region, the pandemic will have short, medium and long-term negative impacts on all social and economic sectors, given its cross-cutting nature.
In view of this, SADC informed the meeting that the region has taken various measures aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19, mitigating socio-economic effects, and ensuring economic recovery and growth at both regional and national levels.
SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax expressed appreciation to the World Bank for its continued support to the SADC region, through various programmes in member states.
“We also appreciate the support shown by the World Bank towards the SADC Secretariat and affiliated organizations, adding that the development of the Bank’s Regional Integration Strategy comes at a critical time when the SADC region is developing its Vision 2050 and the new Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) for the period from 2020 to 2030, and the region would require innovative and practical support/partnership to recover from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
Director for Regional Integration for the World Bank Group, Deborah Wetzel indicated that the response of World Bank in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic is focusing on protecting lives, livelihoods and the future.
She said that this entail putting in place prevention, detection and treatment of the disease; supporting household incomes and supporting investment in recovery and growth, to create the foundations for the future.
“The development of the Regional Integration Strategy demonstrates the willingness of the Bank to partner with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as, SADC in recognition of the need to create linkages between national and regional priorities to realise sustainable economic growth and, ultimately end poverty and inequality in the region,” she said.