Ministers of Trade and Finance from member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) were expected to finalise agreements on the setting up of a Regional Development Fund (RDF) that would finance the region’s infrastructure development projects and forge deeper regional integration.
Together with the SADC Committee of Central Bank Governors (CCGB), the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration convened in Botswana last week to finalise the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and review proposals to establish the RDF. The revised RISDP is to be presented to the council for consideration at its meeting in August 2014. At their last meeting held in Mauto, Mozambique, the SADC ministers agreed on key aspects of the Fund, which included required seed capital, temporary hosting institution, shareholding and institutional structure. The Fund would have seed capital of US$1,2 billion with member states contributing US$612 million, the private sector US$444 million and International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) US$144 million. SADC member states would hold 51 percent of the shares in the facility, against 37 percent for the private sector and 12 percent for ICPs.
The ministers were also invited to approve a proposal for the fund to be initially capitalised to the tune of US$240.3 million. The SADC secretariat would also investigate the modalities of capitalisation and shareholding of the fund by member states, the private sector and international cooperating partners. A road map of approved decisions would also be developed and submitted to ministers at the earliest opportunity.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on July 17, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the meeting was very crucial as it came at a time when regional integration was central to the SADC agenda. She expressed hope that the two issues on the agenda, the RISDP and the SADC Regional Development Fund, would be concluded at the meeting so they could be tabled at the council in Victoria Falls.
She said she has no doubt that the key stakeholders and member states are committed to establishment of the fund and would contribute to its coffers. She also urged the negotiating parties to agree on the legal requirements of the fund so that it can be instituted. Dr Tax called on SADC ministers to be prudent in their deliberations because the fund was very important for industrialisation and infrastructure development in SADC. She added that the regional development fund would provide viable and sustainable funding for industrialisation to take place. On the RISDP, Dr Tax urged ministers to endorse the strategic plan so that the organisation can move forward.