2020 expected to be a watershed year for the Southern African Development Community
By Kizito Sikuka of the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre.
For southern Africa, the journey started in the late 1970s when representatives of the Frontline States sought to forge closer alliance, culminating into the formation of a vibrant regional organization, the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in 1980.
In 1992, the Conference was transformed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In this regard, the year 2020 provides an opportunity for SADC not only to review its integration agenda but also chart the region’s development plan as it reflects on its 40 years of regional cooperation.
One of the priority areas for SADC in 2020 is the formulation of a new 30-year vision that will lay the foundation and set a strategic direction for the region to implement its programmes and activities until 2050.
The current regional blueprint, the Revised SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), which was approved in 2015 is coming to an end in December 2020.
The proposed SADC Vision 2050 is expected to be predicated upon the existing SADC vision, which is that “of a common future in a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice, and peace and security for the people of southern Africa”.
The new vision will be aligned to the African Union Agenda 2063 and a resolution was also made by the region that the Strategic Plan 2020-2030 should be termed the RISDP 2020-2030.
The two strategic documents are expected to be presented for approval at the 40th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for August in Maputo, Mozambique.
New framework for industrial development:
Closely linked to the development of a new vision, the year 2020 is historic as it marks the last year of implementation of the Revised RISDP 2015-2020.
SADC Member States are this year expected to intensify their efforts to implement activities set out in the plan as well as the industrial development strategy.
The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 provides a framework for major economic and technological transformation in southern Africa.
To support its implementation, a SADC Protocol on Industry to improve the policy environment for industrial development was approved in August 2019.
The protocol is a stand-alone, binding legal instrument that will entrench and give legal effect to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap and its related Cost-Action Plan and will ensure adequate coordination, monitoring and evaluation of implementation both at regional and national level.
Advancing gender equality:
On gender development, SADC will this year join the global community to mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA).
The BDPfA is an agenda for empowerment of women to accelerate the implementation of gender progressive initiatives as well as remove all the obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making.
While SADC has made significant progress to promote gender equality and equity, the year 2020 provides an opportunity for the region to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while taking note of the barriers that hinder the acceleration of gender equality.
Addressing regional energy:
During the year, SADC will continue to strengthen energy development at regional level to address power shortages that have hindered economic growth and development since 2007, due to diminishing generation capacity and growth in demand.
SADC through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the planning, generation, transmission and marketing of electricity in southern Africa on behalf of member state utilities plans to commission a total of 8,781 megawatts of new electricity to the regional power grid in 2020.
Another priority in the energy sector is the finalization of the review of the SADC Protocol on Energy, which is now outdated and does not capture some of the changing dynamics in the energy sector such as the push for greater uptake of renewable energy sources and technologies as well as the impact of climate change.
Furthermore, SADC is expected to conclude a study on the modalities and operations of a regional policy framework to guide the exploration of gas and oil by April this year.
The SADC region has some of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world, hence the development of a regional gas master plan will go a long way for the region to tap its potential and address energy challenges.
Establishment of a regional parliament:
SADC will forge ahead with the proposed transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum (PF) into a regional parliament.
The 39th SADC Summit held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in August 2019 “directed the SADC Secretariat in collaboration with the SADC PF Secretariat to develop the model that the proposed SADC Parliament would assume, in terms of mandate, powers and functions; and to develop a Roadmap for the transformation of the SADC PF into a SADC Parliament.”
The model is expected to be finalized this year and presented for approval at the 40th SADC Summit scheduled for August in Mozambique.
Silencing the Guns:
Peace and stability are key ingredients for the success of regional integration and sustainable development. As such, mechanisms for peace-building and peace-keeping will be another focal area in 2020.
In line with the African Union aspiration of “Silencing the Guns by 2020”, SADC will strive to end wars, civil conflicts, gender violence, and violent conflicts in the region.
Benefitting from an enlarged market:
Another important issue for SADC in 2020 is making sure that the region fully benefits from the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that became a reality in May 2019.
The AfCFTA is an enlarged market that brings together all the 55 AU member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.
The operationalization of the AfCFTA has the capacity to change the global economic landscape and boost intra-regional trade across the continent.
Southern African News Features are produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) in Harare, Zimbabwe. Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa at www.sardc.net.