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BY BONNIE MODIAKGOTLA
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has received a major boost from the European Union and the German government which has funded the regional block to support its efforts in monitoring and mobilizing resources for the implementation of the regional agenda.
On Friday, the trio officially launched the €18.7 million (P224 million) reserved for the SADC Integrated Institutional Capacity Building (IICB) Programme. The funds were raised from the European Union which contributed €13.2 million (P158.4 million) while the German government released €5.5 million (P66 million). The programme is expected to run over a period of 39 months, ending in October 2022.
Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Secretary, said the programme will be implemented by the SADC Secretariat supported by the GIZ, building on the achievements of the project on “Strengthening of National-Regional Linkages in SADC” (SNRL), which started in 2016, funded by the German government.
The IICB programme is expected to address the identified key capacity constraints in strategy and policy implementation at national level, in particular the human and financial resources as well as legal and institutional frameworks. The funding for the IICB programme will also be used to prop up the SADC Secretariat to ensure robust facilitation and implementation of its mandates.
To this end, the IICB programme takes a two-pronged approach assessed on two specific objectives. The first being to enhance the capacity of SADC’s 16 member states’ structures to facilitate and co-ordinate the implementation of the regional agenda at country level. The second objective is to enhance service delivery by the SADC secretariat in support of programmes or project planning, coordination, resource mobilization, implementation, monitoring and knowledge sharing of regional commitments at country level.
“With the achievements realized, challenges still remain in terms of coverage and scope of activities. Through this successor Programme, we will expand the country coverage to at least 10 Member States from the three (Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia). Efforts are already underway to establish or revamp SADC National Committees in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Tanzania,” Dr. tax said.
She added that the support under the Integrated Institutional Capacity Building Programme will be more targeted at activities with impact, hence, the focus will be placed on sectoral coordinating structures in three sectors, namely Industrialization, Agriculture, and Infrastructure development.
Ralf Andreas Breth, Germany’s ambassador to Botswana, said promoting regional integration in Africa remains at the forefront of Germany’s Africa initiatives. He said a lot can be learned from the European Union’s integration system which has bolstered economic growth in that region thus giving the regional block the impetus to share success of regional integration with the SADC body.
“We are committed to supporting political and economic cooperation across national borders. Where markets are integrated and trade barriers reduced, economic potentials are unleashed and citizens enjoy the benefits in the form of greater peace and prosperity. And while this might sound fantastical to some, we see it in our own country and among our neighbors every day,” he said.
At the European level, the German government has advocated for intensifying the European Union’s cooperation with Africa’s regional economic communities, Breth said. “Today’s joint launch of the IICB programme reflects and reinforces our belief in sharing the European experiences and providing opportunities to SADC and other regional organizations to benefit from them,” he added.
The IICB programme will play a positive role not only in reinforcing the SADC Secretariat to deliver on its mandate but also to strengthen the national structures in the SADC member states and bridge the gap that presently exist between the regional and national dimensions of regional integration, revealed Jan Sadek, Head of Delegation of European Union to Botswana and SADC.
“Historically the European Union has been among the major donors in support of SADC’s integration process. Today, the EU’s support to SADC is very comprehensive, addressing nearly all priority areas within SADC, such as infrastructure, trade, business environment, and agriculture, just to mention a few,” said Sadek.
He further revealed that in the next four years, the European Union support to SADC will reach a total of more than €150 million (P1.8 billion), of which around €80 million (P960 million) will be managed directly by SADC. “This means flexibility but also responsibility, SADC has to ensure a stable, consistent and competent structure capable of managing, implementing and monitoring the programmes that are benefiting SADC,” Sadek advised.