SADC has its plate full in 2015

via SADC has its plate full in 2015 | The Herald January 19, 2015

SADC member states, through the Southern African Power Pool, have identified priority energy projects to be implemented in the short term with a target of attaining power self-sufficiency by 2018.

THE year 2015 promises to be an exciting period for Southern Africa, with crucial regional processes expected to be concluded and deadlines for a number of important regional and global milestones beckoning during the next 12 months.

Key highlights for the coming year include the convening of an Extraordinary Summit of Sadc leaders that will shape the integration agenda for the region.

At the summit, discussions will focus on how the region could improve its industrial capacity as it aims to move away from an economic path built on consumption and commodity exports onto a sustainable developmental path based on value-addition and beneficiation.

Industrial development has long been identified as one of the main drivers of regional integration in Sadc as it promotes the diversification of economies, as well as the development of productive capacity and the creation of employment to reduce poverty.

Therefore, the development of a Sadc industrialisation policy framework is expected to enable the region to transform its economies from being raw resource-dependent to ones that enjoy beneficiated products that are technology driven, dynamic and diversified.

Another key highlight of the Extraordinary Sadc Summit should be the expected approval of the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP).

The 34th Sadc Summit held in Victoria Falls in August 2014 postponed the approval of the revised RISDP to allow synchronisation of the four Sadc regional integration pillars – industrial development and market integration; infrastructure development for regional integration; peace and security co-operation; and special programmes.

The Summit felt that the implementation of the pillar on industrial development and market integration was skewed in favour of trade issues, with little progress made on the industrialisation component.

The RISDP, which is a 15-year blueprint for Sadc regional integration and development, has been under review since 2010 as part of efforts to align the region’s development agenda in line with new realities and emerging global dynamics.

With regard to gender equality, 2015 is the year the region has set as the deadline for the attainment of the target of equal representation of women and men in key decision-making positions in public and private sectors.

Although significant progress has been made towards attainment of the target of 50:50 gender representation in decision-making positions, a lot more still needs to be done to ensure that this is achieved by the end of 2015.

According to the Sadc Gender Monitor 2013 produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre for the Sadc Gender Unit, only five Sadc member states were close to the target of parity in Parliament by mid-2013, having gone above the 30 percent previous threshold set by regional leaders.

These are Seychelles (43,8 percent), South Africa (42,3 percent), Mozambique (39,2 percent), Tanzania (36 percent), Angola (34,1 percent) and Zimbabwe (31,5 percent) who joined this list in the July 31 2013 elections. A number of other Sadc countries are below the 20 percent mark.

The African Union has declared 2015 as the as the year of “Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, to encourage countries to speed up the implementation of protocols and instruments aimed at promoting gender equality and parity.

On the political scene, three countries – Zambia, Lesotho and the United Republic of Tanzania – will go to the polls during the year to elect new leaderships.

Zambia will choose a new leader tomorrow following the death of President Michael Sata in October 2014.

According to the Zambian Constitution, if the office of the President becomes vacant by reason of death or other reasons, an election shall be held within 90 days of the office becoming vacant.

Acting President Guy Scott is constitutionally unable to participate in the elections as both his parents were not born in Zambia.

Among the nine aspiring presidential candidates are defence minister and leader of the ruling Patriotic Front, Edgar Lungu, and Nevers Mumba of the main opposition Movement for Multi-Party Democracy.

Others include Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development and Edith Nawakwi of the Forum for Democracy and Development.

The winning candidate will become Zambia’s sixth president since the country got its independence from Britain on October 24 1964.

Lesotho is set to go to the polls on February 28 to elect a new government. This follows a Sadc-mediated agreement to bring forward the elections from 2017 to ensure that stability returns to the Kingdom following an alleged attempted coup in August 2014.

Sadc facilitator, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, has led the regional effort to create peace and stability in Lesotho after disturbances in the country last year.

The Sadc mediation led to the signing of the Maseru Facilitation Declaration in October and the Maseru Security Accord in November.

Substantive progress has been made with the signing of those agreements, resulting in the reconvening of Parliament in October; dissolution of Parliament in December; and the agreement to bring forward elections to February 2015.

The political crisis in Lesotho was allegedly triggered when Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, facing a vote of no-confidence, suspended Parliament in June 2014 after challenges in the coalition government formed in 2012.

Tanzania is yet to set the date for its presidential and parliamentary elections. However, the country has always held polls in late October.

In accordance with the Tanzanian constitution, incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete will not take part in the elections as he is serving his second and final term.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, which has never lost an election since independence in 1961, is yet to announce its candidate for the presidential elections.

In addition to elections in the region, at least two countries, namely Zambia and Tanzania, are expected to hold referenda on their new constitutions this year.

The Tanzanian referendum is set for April 30. If adopted, the new constitution will replace the one approved in 1977.

Key highlights of the draft constitution include the introduction of 50:50 gender representation in Parliament. This is in line with the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development, which calls for equal representation of women and men in decision-making positions.

Zambia has said preparations to hold its referendum will take place after tomorrow’s presidential elections.

Infrastructure and energy development will remain key intervention areas in 2015, as an efficient and cost-effective transport network and stable energy supplies are critical to a thriving economy at both national and regional levels.

Sadc has adopted an ambitious US$64 billion programme to develop cross-border infrastructure in six priority areas of energy, transport, tourism, water, information communication technology and meteorology.

Implementation of this programme started in 2013 and will gain momentum in 2015 as the region plans to develop a total of 106 cross-border projects during the first phase, by 2017.

With respect to energy development, Southern Africa is expected to make a big stride towards increasing the use of clean and alternative energy through the establishment of the Sadc Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREE).

A total of five countries — Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – have expressed interest in hosting the centre.

The proposed centre would, among other things, spearhead the promotion of renewable energy development in the region.

In addition to being affordable, secure and reliable, renewable energy will not be depleted and is less polluting to the environment compared to fossil energy.

Sadc member states, through the Southern African Power Pool, have identified priority energy projects to be implemented in the short term with a target of attaining power self-sufficiency by 2018.

With regard to the environment and climate change, key highlights for the year include the expected adoption of a climate change agreement.

The long-awaited United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) global agreement to be adopted in Paris in December 2015 will replace the Kyoto Protocol which is ending this year.

The new agreement is expected to provide a legal framework for implementation of strategies to slow climate change to a level that is not danger- ous.

It is expected to ensure that past agreements on finance, adaption, mitigation, technology and capacity building support are implement- ed.

Implementation of such agreements is critical for developing countries of the South which bear the impact despite contributing little to the problem. –

Another important milestone for SADC and the rest of the global community is achieving targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

A total of eight goals, ranging from education and health to poverty alleviation and the environment were approved by the global community in 2000 with desirable targets and measurable indicators.

While remarkable progress has been recorded in some countries, most developing countries are still off track to meeting the desired targets by the end of 2015.

In light of this, the global community has agreed to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), commonly referred to as the Post-2015 Development Agenda, to ensure that the momentum achieved in implementing MDGs is maintained.

The challenge for SADC and other developing countries is to, therefore, make sure that their concerns and demands are included in the SDGs.

On the sporting arena, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Zambia will carry the SADC flag at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations whick kicked off on Saturday in Equatorial Guinea and runs until Februray 8.

The three SADC countries have all previously won Africa’s greatest soccer prize, with Zambia being the most recent winner in 2012. –