Sunday, November 28, 2021

A year full of challenges for SADC

The 2020/21 financial year for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been described as unique and challenging for everyone at individual and corporate levels.

This was shared by SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, at the SADC council of ministers. The main objective of this meeting is to assess progress made during the 2020/2021 financial year, and deliberate on the outlook for 2021/2022.

“Financial Year 2020/21, was unique and challenging for everyone, at corporate and individual levels. United we managed to pull through, and we will definitely conquer the COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons learnt from the pandemic should enable us shape the future, including in terms of addressing similar unforeseen situations,” Dr Tax said.

Furthermore though it has recorded milestones industrialization remains a key priority area for the region as progress remains slow. The share of the manufacturing sector to overall GDP is still low, around 12 per cent.

In order to realize the targeted long-term industrialization objectives, there is need to among other things; operationalize the SADC Regional Development Fund as Regional projects require adequate and sustainable funding. Accelerate initiatives to enhance capacities and capabilities of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), so as to benefit SADC citizens in terms of employment and wealth creation.

Expeditiously finalize the SADC Digital Economy Strategy

 With the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, and lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, digitisation of our economies is not a matter of choice, but a necessity.

In terms of implementation of the 2020/2021 Annual Corporate Plan, an implementation rate of 79 per cent was recorded for April to December 2020 period.

“This implementation rate is lower by 5 percentage points compared to 84 per cent recorded during the same period in financial year 2019/20, and is attributed to challenges posed by COVID-19. Recognizing the challenges, the Secretariat developed a Business Continuity Plan, which enabled the Secretariat and the region to implement most of the planned activities virtually, nonetheless, some of the activities could not be undertaken virtually, due to their nature,” Dr Tax said.

Progress recorded in the implementation of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, out of which a total of 63 Infrastructure projects. These included 17 regional Energy projects developed under second Priority Action Plan for Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, such as ZIZABONA transmission interconnector between Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Luapula Hydro-power between DRC and Zambia; Baynes Hydro-power between Namibia and Angola.

SADC member states are said to be slow in offering their signatures to the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement, as only 5 member states have ratified being Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. The number falls short of the required number of fourteen (14) Member States, to make the Tripartite FTA come into Force.

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