|Southern African News Features SANF 10 No 50, Dec 2010|
|Review of 2010
Region creeps towards energy security
Southern Africa is steadily emerging from the energy shortages that have persisted for the past four years, and 2010 marked another milestone with new initiatives gradually adding power to the regional pool and security of supply is now set to be restored in the next three to four years.
The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) has projected to commission just under 1,000 Megawatts (MW) in 2010 with the power expected to come from planned rehabilitation and new projects in Angola (60 MW), Botswana (160 MW), Democratic Republic of Congo (160 MW), South Africa (591 MW) and Zambia (15 MW).
A total of 2,187 MW of new electricity was commissioned in the previous year against a target of 2,400 MW.
Between 2010 and 2015, SAPP expects to commission more projects adding 20,700 MW of electricity to the regional grid, allowing the region to match supply and demand.
If the current recovery trend is followed and all short-term energy generation projects are implemented as per plans, then southern Africa should enjoy the desired surplus power generation capacity from 2013/14.
Another significant milestone for SADC during 2010 was the celebration of 30 years since its formation with the objective of better regional cohesion.
To commemorate 30 years of unity and cooperation as a region, SADC Heads of State and Government approved the establishment of a Regional Poverty Observatory (RPO), a historic decision that acknowledges the severity of poverty levels in the region, but also indicates a determination to fight the challenge with a clear focus.
The RPO is expected to strengthen the monitoring, measurement and analysis of implementation of regional integration targets at both national and regional levels, and encourage learning from best practices at national, regional and international levels, making poverty reduction more results-oriented.
While accepting the disappointment of failing to launch a Customs Union in 2010 as planned, the leaders adopted a comprehensive work programme with concrete actions and timelines aimed at consolidating economic integration.
The leaders endorsed the decision of the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration to appoint a high-level expert group with a mandate to consolidate and refine technical work done to date in order to reach common understanding of the parameters, benchmarks and timelines of a model customs union and its implementation modalities. A report will be submitted to the Task Force before December 2011.
To ensure that SADC’s economic integration is maintained and deepened, SADC aims to transform the Free Trade Area (FTA), launched in 2008, into a Customs Union by 2011, a Common Market by 2015 and a Monetary Union in 2018.
All SADC Member States are members of the FTA, with the exception of Angola and the DRC who requested time to rebuild their economies following decades of armed conflict. The two are expected to join the FTA soon.
The year also saw SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) moving a step closer to the establishment of an enlarged FTA encompassing 26 countries in east and southern Africa by 2012.
Chairperson of the Tripartite Taskforce, which is spearheading the implementation process, Ambassador Juma Mwapachu, said a draft plan of action on the FTA approved at the end of 2009 by the three secretariats would be adopted at the forthcoming Tripartite Summit of the Heads of State and Government expected in early 2011.
COMESA and SADC have already endorsed a roadmap as the framework document for consultations and negotiations on the Tripartite FTA. The EAC is expected to back the action plan at its forthcoming summit.
The creation of a grand FTA with a combined population of some 570 million people and a Gross Domestic Product of US$625 billion would open borders to literally half of the continent, spanning the entire southern and eastern regions of Africa, from Cape to Cairo.
Another major development in SADC during 2010 was the opening in May of the new Unity Bridge linking Mozambique and Tanzania.
This is the only land crossing over the Ruvuma river between northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania.
Initiated 35 years ago by the then presidents of the two countries, the late Samora Machel and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere respectively, the bridge became a reality on 12 May 2010.
The Unity Bridge is expected to boost development, not only in the riparian regions of Mtwara in Tanzania and Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, but also in the rest of SADC as it is an important component of the Mtwara development corridor. The bridge was built entirely by Mozambique and Tanzania, using their own resources.
2010 was also a watershed year for southern Africa in sports - the year South Africa became the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup and put up a world-class performance that altered stereotypes about the continent’s ability to stage major international events.
After six years of sustained hard work and intense global scrutiny of their ability to deliver, South Africa’s nine host cities produced 10 World Cup stadiums matching and even exceeding international standards.
Gleaming, fully complete, along with perfectly manicured pitches and world-class technology, South Africa’s 10 football “cathedrals” were testimony to the country's (and the continent’s) ability to produce the goods, whatever the circumstances.
The World Cup was a catalyst for important infrastructural developments in SADC Member States which used the tournament to position southern Africa as a tourism destination and unlock the positive brand value of the region.
Through the Boundless Southern Africa initiative, nine SADC Member States jointly marketed seven Trans Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) throughout the region - uniting African nations as viable and worthy collective tourist destinations.
The initiative was born in 2005 when tourism and environment ministers from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe endorsed a TFCA development strategy for 2010 and beyond.
The infrastructural offshoots from the World Cup included refurbishment and modernisation of airports in the host South Africa and neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
These included a US$75-million modernisation and expansion programme at the Maputo International Airport which was funded by the Chinese Export Import Bank and undertaken by China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation.
The SADC region also benefited from massive investment in road refurbishments and construction of new hotels. These are all important investments in building the future capacity of the tourism sector.
The year also witnessed a commitment by Member States to implement the SADC Universal Visa (UNIVISA), with the launch of a pilot project coinciding with the World Cup.
Five Member States volunteered to spearhead the implementation of the UNIVISA -Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The FIFA World Cup united African perspectives, becoming a rallying point for cooperation in the region and the rest of the continent.
It brought to the fore the spirit of ubuntu as Africans celebrated the achievements of fellow Africans - both on and off the field of play.
On the political front, Mauritius held parliamentary elections during the year in which Prime Minister Navichandra Ramgoolam was re-elected for another five years. His coalition won the 5 May parliamentary elections with two-thirds majority.
Elections in the United Republic of Tanzania on 31 October were won by the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party led by President Jakaya Kikwete.
Elections are expected in 2011 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.
SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985
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