By Timo Shihepo
Windhoek - The Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) which is designed to provide a clear strategic direction with respect to SADC programmes, projects and activities in line with the SADC common agenda and strategic priorities is coming to a conclusion next year.
The ultimate objective of the plan is to deepen integration in the region with a view to accelerate poverty eradication and the attainment of other economic and non-economic development goals towards the realisation of the Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Action Plan of 2015-2063.
The RISDP was first formulated in March 2001, and was adopted and approved by the SADC Summit in August 2003. However, the initial plan did not yield the desired results, leading to a revised RISDP of 2015-2020.
The revised RISDP was approved at the extraordinary summit meeting in April 2015 in Harare, Zimbabwe and set five priorities for regional cooperation.
Priority one is concerned about industrial development and market integration, priority two is about infrastructure in support of regional integration, priority three is for peace and security cooperation. The fourth priority is for special programmes of a regional dimension.
These are priority sectors in which action must be taken in order to achieve the overarching goal of regional integration and poverty eradication.
The RISDP provides milestones and targets for each priority area.
The revised RISDP is supposed to guide these priority sectors in order to help SADC reach its goal of an industrialised region by 2063 under the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap of 2015-2063.
Just like the first RISDP, concerns have been raised about the RISDP, which comes to an end in 2020.
While significant progress has been made, it is not a secret that the priorities under this plan have not been met.
The region is still struggling with industrial development and market integration.
The region is also struggling to build infrastructure that is needed to support regional integration. As for peace and security, the region has been experiencing political violence in member states.
SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, during last week’s ministerial task force on regional economic integration meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, said while several milestones have been achieved in terms of implementation of the revised RISDP, a lot still has to be done in order to achieve the objectives of the Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2063.
Dr Tax said industrialisation remains the main focus as a region, and through industrialisation, the region aims to attain accelerated and sustainable industrial development by increasing the share of manufacturing value addition in GDP to 20% by 2020, and manufacturing value added in GDP to 20% by 2020 and 40 percent by 2050.
“We remain with one year to 2020, and we have a lot to do to catch up,” she warns.
For this to be realized, Dr Tax said the region has to remain focused and committed to the implementation of the SADC’s industrialisation agenda by paying attention to all industrialisation strategy pillars namely; industrialisation, regional integration, competitiveness, and the cross cutting pillar, which outline a number of complementary interventions that are supposed to be implemented coherently.
“With regards to market integration, progress continues to be made towards implementation and consolidation of the SADC Free Trade Area, and the Continental Free Trade Area.
Nonetheless, concern remains on the slow pace in the finalisation of exchange of offers, and the ratification of COMESA-EAC-SADC Free Trade Area, especially in light of the progress being made under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
It is my appeal to member states to finalise tariff negotiations and ratification processes for the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (TFTA) for the region to reap the benefits of the continental free trade area,” she said.
She added that the regional integration agenda cannot be realised without the necessary supporting technical infrastructure and tools, to ensure productivity, seamless trade and to protect both the environment and the consumers of our products.
“During the year, the region has adopted 10 regionally harmonised standards texts.
The SADC Accreditation Service has so far increased the number of internationally accredited schemes to four, which include calibration, testing, medical testing and inspection.
There is need therefore, for member states to allocate resources for the maintenance of such international recognition, especially in light of the region’s aspirations to industrialise,” she said.