Pretoria: Two weeks ago we launched the Southern African Development Community (SADC) United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety – a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. By any means, the death of approximately 1.3 million people every year on the world’s roads is fit to be described as an epidemic. Alone we might not be strong enough, but we now stand as SADC and the rest of the world to declare that road deaths can be stopped. This commitment is in our hands. Through the Decade of Action, Member States, with the support of the international community, commit to actions in areas such as developing and enforcing legislation on key risk factors such as speeding, drunk driving and not wearing seat belts.
Facilitating Regional Trade
We also hosted also a SADC Transport Ministers Conference that took place in Midrand. The conference deliberated on technical and engineering-specific subjects together with more general policy considerations. There were case studies of regional developments and projects that cover the transport sector in its entirety.
Today, following those recent meetings, we put our minds together on the Cross Border Road Transport discussions showing how much work the SADC region must do for it to pave the way for Africa’s Development through transport integration. A vibrant transport network is necessary to boost regional integration. Transport is necessary to ensure that the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) launched in 2008 and the Customs Union would be successful through addressing delays at border posts and promoting the free movement of goods and services across Southern Africa, Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana.
With a combined population of some 260 million and a regional market worth over US$430 billion, Southern Africa has vast potential for socio-economic development. However, to achieve this, the Member States of SADC need to work towards developing an efficient, seamless and cost-effective cross border transport network because a thriving economy depends on a reliable transport base at both national and regional levels.
With regard to regional integration some of you would be aware that at a summit in 2007 in Zambia, SADC Heads of State and Government hinted that the lack of funds was one of the reasons for our transport infrastructure having a backward knock.
The leaders have since directed the SADC Secretariat to work out a regional Master Plan for Infrastructure Development to coordinate and harmonise all regional infrastructure developments. The five priority sectors for regional infrastructure development are:
* Water Infrastructure and
Part to these is for us to ensure that cross-border transport in all modes of transport within the SADC region, particularly those that play a part in the facilitation of transport and goods, are treated with the right resources and priority. Studies reflect that trade in the SADC region is being hampered by poor infrastructure at border posts, and this hinders the smooth movement of goods and services across the region.
Enhanced cooperation in the elimination of such inconveniences brought about by inefficient infrastructure and poor services at border points should pave the way for a more economically-productive region. A vibrant cross-border transport supply chain also has the capacity to boost regional integration as well as ensure that the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) launched in 2008 and the impending Customs Union are successful, through addressing delays at border posts and promoting the free movement of goods and services across Southern Africa.
Coordinating Border Management
However, due to various reasons, among them the lack of the will to implement the SADC’s different programmes, regional integration has been greatly affected. Stakeholders hope that the move by Southern African leaders will yield positive results and ensure that SADC countries re-double their efforts in implementing and developing regional initiatives, particularly at entry border points in developing and implementing Coordinated Border Management.
Studies show that trade in the region is being hampered by poor delays at border posts. In other words, this hinders the smooth movement of goods and services, including passengers across the region. A joint cooperation through Coordinated Border Management in the elimination of such inconveniences brought about by inefficient and poor services at entry points will pave the way for a more economically-productive region.
This includes setting up of One-Stop Border posts across the region such as the one at Chirundu between Zimbabwe and Zambia. At the Chirundu border - along the North South transport corridor - waiting times for commercial traffic have been reduced from four to five days to a maximum of two days, and often to a few hours.
This development will also boost arrivals in the tourism sector and have a positive impact on other industries such as agriculture and communication, thereby unlocking the economic potential that lies within SADC.
Currently, Africa accounts for less than 3% of global trade and only 10% of Africa’s trade is with other African countries. Similarly, only 11% of SADC’s trade is with other SADC countries while trade within the European Union Member Countries is over 60%. Regional integration will help to expand markets in SADC Member Countries and allow these Countries to benefit from the global trade.
The World Bank Global Competitiveness Report 2010
We must accept that as we enter the global space, we must meet the expectations of the global community. The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report of 2010 provides a detailed breakdown of the ranking into basic requirements, efficiency enhancers and innovation factors.
The report highlights 12 pillars of competiveness built from 111 indicators. For instance, the pillars within basic requirements are institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment and health and basic education of population.
The pillars within innovation and sophistication are business sophistication, networks, suppliers, technological innovation and research and development. All the pillars of competitiveness and the indicators under those pillars are relevant to the competitiveness of all economies.
Some of the pillars are more relevant to economies that are operating at more basic production activities while others in efficiency and innovation driven economies. The Global Competitiveness Index therefore weighs the pillars in accordance with the relevance of particular pillars to an individual economy. But broadly, this report puts it clearly that without sustainable transport infrastructure efficient and sustainable economic activities can be very limited.
Doing Business Report 2010 and 2011
The World Bank Doing Business Report assesses the ease of doing business in a country. It examines the process and time involved in starting a business in terms of dealing with various types of permits, recruitment of workers, registration of property rights, protection given to investors trading across borders and enforcement of contracts.
According to the SADC Secretariat, about US$20 billion, mainly from member states and cooperating partners is required to support trade facilitation measures and to upgrade regional infrastructure, especially roads, rail and ports. Targeted development corridors include the Limpopo Corridor; Beira Corridor; Trans-Kalahari Corridor; Dar es Salaam Corridor, Shire Zambezi Waterway; Nacala Development Corridor, Maputo Corridor; North-South Corridor, Walvis Bay Corridor Mtwara Development Corridor, Western Power Corridor and the Malanje Corridor.
Other regional infrastructure projects are the Kazungula Bridge, which would link Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the proposed Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana-Namibia power transmission line code-named ZiZaBonA, which links the four respective countries and the Benguela railway line between Angola and Zambia.
It is quite clear that without these corridors being developed in the best form, we cannot boost economic activities within and between our countries. SADC members signed the Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology and Trade Protocol in 1996; however progress in the region to reap the benefits purported to accompany regional economic integration appears limited.
Although SADC has adopted a growth and development trade strategy, indications are that more needs to be done to implement this in a way that yields more positive results. The Protocol lays the foundation for areas of cooperation by member states and emphasises the need for countries in the region to cooperate in all areas so as to advance regional development and integration.
Furthermore, member states are required, through appropriate institutions, to ensure that coordination, rationalisation and harmonisation of macroeconomic policies occur to achieve the objectives of regional integration.
SADC has achieved much in the past fifteen years, but still faces serious challenges. The SADC countries have developed a strong regional identity and values. They have also agreed to move towards creating a common currency and agreed to create a larger Free Trade Area combining with the neighbouring East African Community (ECA) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) regions.
The importance of SADC countries which are attached to trade facilitation has been reflected in numerous agreements at bilateral, sub-regional and regional levels as well as efforts made at the country level to facilitate the flow of goods and services.
Such initiatives include trade facilitation measures being spearheaded within sub-regional organisations such as the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the continental organisation, the African Union (AU), among many others.
Despite these notable efforts to integrate SADC’s economic space and improve its international competitiveness, most of the trade facilitation initiatives have yielded limited results.
* Transaction costs in many countries remain high, as evidenced by high transport and communications costs.
* High charges and delays at numerous roadblocks.
* Long customs and administrative delays at border posts.
The Trade Facilitation instruments need to be implemented so that Member States can maximise the benefits from establishing the SADC FTA. These include the implementation of coordinated border management, further progress on harmonisation of other regulations, procedures and documentation to make them more user-friendly, especially for small traders; extending the programme to build one-stop border posts to facilitate the movement of cargo across borders and reduce transaction costs to the private sector.
I must say the most demanding part of creating a coordinated border management will be the on-going and substantial administrative changes that are necessary in a common SADC integrated border management area. The development of a concerted programme of action to simplify and harmonise border rules and procedures across the region would need to be a key priority. Without such changes, many of the economic gains from regional integration will not materialise.
The key challenge for SADC Member Countries is to implement an integrated border management framework within a reasonable time-frame in order to increase the percentage share of SADC trade in the world market. This will only be possible when Member States comply with the decisions agreed under the SADC Protocols and speed up its implementation.
The strategic goals related to regional transport are: integrating transport networks; eliminating obstacles to the movement of persons, goods and services; building strategic partnerships between governments and the private sector.
In the transport sector, the SADC Member States need to underscore the need for implementation of transit facilitation reforms and effective regulation to make regionalisation work. The regional economic integration framework is dynamic.
It is based on the willingness and commitment of SADC economies to give it momentum.
I am confident that if SADC plans and implements all its Transport Master Plan objectives that include unblocking of regional corridors effectively, our aspiration to join the rest of the world in economic development will be a reality.
* Keynote address at the Cross Border Road Transport Indaba by Mr
Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of Transport at the Emperors Palace,
Johannesburg, 18th October 2011.