by Kizito Sikuka in Mbabane, Swaziland
Access to reliable and accurate information is essential to achieving regional integration and sustainable development in southern Africa.
The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said this when officiating at the launch of four new SADC publications ahead of the 36th SADC Summit which opens 30 August in Mbabane in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
She said availability of information enables citizens to participate in the integration agenda through educating and informing them about the benefits of belonging to a shared community of southern Africa.
“This is an exciting and proud moment for the region as we unveil new publications which are aimed at enabling SADC citizens, and regional and international partners to get correct and up-to-date information about progress made in implementing regional programmes in terms of achievements and emerging issues on the regional integration agenda,” Dr Tax said.
The “publications are also expected to provide information that is necessary to guide informed decision-making and refocusing of efforts to increase impact and create value for money,” she said.
The four publications that were launched deal with energy, gender, trafficking in persons, and managing economic transformation.
The SADC Energy Monitor, the first of its kind in southern Africa, documents progress made by Member States towards implementation of SADC energy policies and initiatives, including the SADC Protocol on Energy.
The publication focuses on the three main energy sectors of relevance to SADC – electricity, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and oil and gas – and shows that significant progress has been made by Member States in implementing various policies to address the crippling energy situation in the region, despite the challenges.
If all planned energy activities, projects and programmes are implemented as per schedule, SADC is expected to be energy self-sufficient by 2020.
The SADC Gender and Development Monitor 2016, now in its sixth edition, presents an account of progress made towards implementation of regional commitments to achieve gender equality and equity in line with the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
The publication shows that most countries in the region have made progress toward gender equality and equity in various sectors, and all Member States have increased the number of women at some levels of decision-making, although falling short of the target of 50:50 by 2015.
In addition to governance, the report covers the constitutional and legal frameworks, education and training, health, productive resources and employment, gender-based violence, peace building and conflict resolution, institutional mechanisms, and media.
The baseline study on Trafficking in Persons in the SADC Region highlights the nature, extent and impact of trafficking in persons in the region.
A total of 13 of the 15 SADC Member States have specific legislation that addresses the issue of human trafficking. These are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, the United Republic Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia are consolidating and enacting specific legislation in this regard as they have various pieces of legislation for this purpose.
Adding Value: A policy toolbox for SADC Member States to manage economic transformation and value chain development is a publication that provides tools and guidelines to help regional stakeholders to promote value addition, thus increasing the benefits from their products.
The SADC Energy Monitor and the SADC Gender and Development Monitor 2016 were produced for SADC by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) with support from the Austrian Development Agency.
The other two publications were produced by the SADC Secretariat with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
The Deputy Head of Mission at the Austrian Embassy in Pretoria, Matthias Radosztics, speaking at the launch, said International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) are committed to working with SADC in advancing the integration agenda.
He said international partners are now aligning their support to the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 and the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.
Alignment of support to the two regional documents will ensure the smooth implementation of agreed activities and programmes, thereby promoting socio-economic development and deeper integration.
The publications launch was attended by senior officials from SADC Member States, ICPs and the media.
The theme for the 36th SADC Summit is “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation for the Prosperity of the Region.”
At the summit, President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana will complete his term as SADC chair and hand over the SADC leadership to King Mswati III of Swaziland. sardc.net