SADC Council deliberates on regional integration, cooperation and economic development

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers met in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi on 18-19 March, 2022 to review the implementation of programmes aimed at promoting and deepening regional integration, cooperation and economic development.

The meeting was preceded by the meeting of the SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials which deliberated and cleared issues for consideration by the Council of Ministers from the 13th to 17th March 2022.

In her address, Honourable Nancy Gladys Tembo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers highlighted the need for SADC Member States to sign and ratify key trade and industry legal and policy instruments to facilitate advancing of the regional integration and industrialisation agenda.

The SADC Executive Secretary, His Excellency Mr. Elias M Magosi expressed his gratitude to SADC Member States for the support and commitment to the SADC regional programmes and continued collaboration with the Secretariat in the implementation of priority areas outlined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 and Vision 2050.

The following are some of the key issues Council deliberated on during the two-day meeting.

1. Council approved the Annual Corporate Plan and Budget for the 2022/ 2023 Financial Year to support the implementation of SADC priorities as outlined in the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2020-2030), covering areas of Peace, Security and Governance, Industrial Development and Market Integration, infrastructure development in support of regional integration, social and human capital development and cross cutting issues of gender, youth, disaster risk management, climate change and environment.

2. Council commended Member States for the commitment and resilience demonstrated in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and endorsed the decisions and recommendations of the Ministers of Health, which include continuing to convene Regional Technical Meetings in virtual format with strict adherence to COVID-19 Guidelines, and advocating for voluntary technology sharing on COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing.

3. Council urged Member States to prioritise community engagement and public information sharing as a major action in public health crises; undertake consultations between neighbouring countries, prior to putting in place drastic travel restrictions to facilitate smooth operations across borders; and share vaccines with other Member States to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines within the region.

4. Council reiterated the call for the waiver on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to support manufacturing of vaccines for COVID-19 to allow for a more efficient response to COVID-19, including sharing of lessons and experiences on the manufacturing, distribution and management of vaccines and sharing of information on potential investors willing to set up manufacturing plants within the SADC region.

5. In relation to food and nutrition security, Council noted that most Member States received low rainfall that will affect crop production in the region, and urged Member States to prepare contingency plans, taking into account areas with surplus and shortages of food production and through intra-regional trade, to deal with potential food shortages, and be able to assist food and nutrition insecure people.

6. Council noted the increased frequency, magnitude and impact of cyclones, droughts, floods and disasters that have affected the region and expressed condolences and solidarity with the region’s Governments and people that have lost lives and important social and economic infra-structures, due to these disasters, and urged Member States to prepare contingency plans for floods and/or droughts that may affect the Region; and to promote planting of trees to enhance carbon sequestration and facilitate the adoption of the green economy to reduce the region’s contribution to greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause climate change.

7. Council approved a budget amounting to US$1.3 million for start-up interim activities covering a period of three years from 2022 to 2025 to operationalise the SADC Humanitarian Operations Centre (SHOC)Centre, which has been established in Nacala, Mozambique, to coordinate the regional disaster risk preparedness, response and early recovery to support Member States affected by disasters.

8. As part of the effort to drive the SADC industrialisation agenda, Council urged Member States that have not yet signed or ratified the SADC Protocol on Industry; the Agreement on the Operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund; the Protocol on Trade in Services; the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFCA); and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to do so for the Agreements to come into force. The Protocol on Industry is aimed at promoting the development of diversified, innovative and globally competitive regional and national industrial bases, while the Agreement on the Operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund will ensure sustainable financing of regional programmes, and the Protocol on Trade in Services aims to level the playing field by ensuring that industries and consumers take full advantage of a single regional services market.

9. Council approved the staff complement to fast track the operations of the SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Centre (SADC-RCTC), a multifaceted centre hosted by the United Republic of Tanzania which was established to ensure regionally enhanced coordination, strengthened partnerships and fostering timely responses terrorism and violent extremism in the SADC region.

10. Council approved and recommended to SADC Summit for consideration the Agreement Amending the Protocol on Development of Tourism in SADC which provides for the closure of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA), and Agreement Amending the SADC Treaty to recognise SADC Parliament as one of the SADC Institutions under Article 9 (1) of the SADC Treaty as part of the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament.

The meeting was attended by Ministers constituting the Council of Ministers, who are usually Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Economic Planning, or Finance, supported by the SADC Executive Secretary and Senior Officials.
Source: sadc.int

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