by Joseph Ngwawi – SANF 14 no 41
The SADC Council of Ministers has delayed adoption of a revised development blueprint to allow synchronisation of the four regional integration pillars, including further work on a programme to promote industrial development in the region.
The Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 is a draft five-year plan for implementation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and its 15 member states.
SADC Council has resolved that the draft must be referred back to the Secretariat and Member States to ensure consolidation of the four pillars: industrial development and market integration; infrastructure development for regional integration; peace and security cooperation; and special programmes.
The SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said the Council, which met on 14-15 August ahead of the 34th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, ordered the Secretariat and Member States to return to the drawing board and prioritise industrialisation in the revised RISDP.
“Council directed the Secretariat to finalise the draft RISDP by frontloading industrialisation and its implementation strategy for consideration in March 2015 and requested the Committee of Ministers of Trade to review the sequencing of targeted outputs on industrial development and trade liberalisation in order to accord centre stage to industrialisation in the current stage of integration in SADC,” she said following the Council meeting.
The SADC Secretariat was tasked with facilitating implementation of all pillars of the development integration agenda, in particular fact-tracking of the coordination of measures for effective implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Development Policy Framework and the Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programme.
This is expected to boost the region’s productive competitiveness and industrial capacity and promote equity, fairness and balance in intra-regional trade
Council also directed that an implementation plan (2015-2020) be developed by the Secretariat and be accompanied by a budget.
The Secretariat has also been tasked with convening a meeting of the Committee of Ministers responsible for Industry and Trade in the SADC region who would revisit and streamline the pillars with a view to ensuring greater emphasis is put on the industrialisation programme. The current revised draft gives more emphasis to trade issues.
The Secretariat will be expected to circulate the existing draft RISDP to all Member States and other stakeholders for their comments and input.
“Council has directed that the summit theme that focuses on beneficiation and value addition be mainstreamed in the revised RISDP and the implementation plan,” the executive secretary said during a post-Council media briefing.
The Secretariat will be expected to consolidate the various inputs and produce a final draft of the revised RISDP that should be ready for presentation to the Council of Ministers at its next sitting in February or March 2015.
The RISDP was initially a 15-year plan approved by SADC Member States in 2003 to facilitate regional integration and development, and the review aims at enabling SADC to realise its integration and development agenda by realigning the region’s development plans with emerging global dynamics and refocusing on a few critical and realistic interventions.
The RISDP was developed following a decision by the SADC Summit in Maputo, Mozambique in 1999 to streamline and rationalise the SADC Programme of Action, with a view to increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the SADC Common Agenda in achieving its overarching goals of achieving sustainable development and reducing poverty.
Since 2010, the plan has undergone a review process, starting with a desk review undertaken by the SADC Secretariat in 2011.
The desk assessment analysed SADC’s performance and identified the challenges encountered as well as the lessons learnt during implementation of the RISDP from 2005 to 2010. The assessment formed the basis for an independent mid-term review between 2012 and 2013.
In August 2013, the Council of Ministers directed the SADC Secretariat to work with Member States to establish a multi-stakeholder task force with the responsibility to finalize the process of review of the RISDP.
The task force had a series of meetings in 2014 to propose new priorities; main focal areas; milestones; outputs; targets and timeframes for the remainder of the implementation period.
It also met to propose strategies for implementation of the RISDP; recommend any other strategies and implementation frameworks that may enhance its implementation, including an appropriate institutional and legal framework; and a sustainable resource mechanism, as well as a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the remaining period of implementation.
The task force recognized that the SADC vision, principles, goals, objectives, and the Common Agenda – as enshrined in the Treaty and re-stated in the RISDP – have not changed. It recognized that SADC countries remain committed to integration aimed at achieving poverty eradication and sustainable development.
The task force noted that notwithstanding the achievements made in the implementation of the regional integration agenda, the expectations of the regional blueprint exceeded the capacity of both the SADC Secretariat and Member States to deliver on all the agreed targets within the specified period.
One of the main challenges faced in this particularly area has been the lack of capacity to effectively monitor the implementation of agreed protocols to ensure compliance to commitments.
As a result and because of time lags and resource deficiencies, some of the original targets of the RISDP have been missed and require revision.
For example, the Customs Union, which was initially set for launch in 2010, has been deferred for the remaining period of the RISDP and more realistic targeted outputs will be implemented to facilitate the eventual establishment of the Customs Union as well as other steps targeting regional integration.
The decision to delay adoption of the revised RISDP may bring to the fore the need to review capacity challenges at the SADC Secretariat, in particular an assessment of the mandate of the Directorate on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment in relation to its staffing levels.
The 34th SADC Summit is being held under the theme “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe becomes the SADC chair at this Summit for the coming year, taking over from his Malawian counterpart, President Peter Mutharika.sardc.net