Luanda: On behalf of the Executive Secretary and indeed on my own behalf, it is a great honour and privilege for me to be accorded this opportunity to give these brief opening remarks on this momentous occasion of one of the final steps in the development of our Infrastructure Master Plan. I should state at the outset that this is an initiative that SADC has accorded the highest of priorities within the SADC Programme of Action.
Let me also take this opportunity, to pay tribute to the Government and people of Angola, for the warm hospitality and the excellent facilities that have been put at our disposal for the convenience of our stay, and indeed for our meeting. This no doubt attests to the commitment of Angola to the ideals of SADC.
I would like Chair, on behalf of the SADC Member States, to recognize and appreciate the support rendered by DIFID, through TradeMark Southern Africa, in terms of financial resources to undertake and finalise this Plan, without which we would not have come this far. I would also wish to thank the European Union and DBSA for also having made significant contributions to the process.
The genesis of this project stems from the 2007 Lusaka Summit Decision, where at Summit directed Council to oversee the development of a SADC Regional Infrastructure Master Plan, which would be the basis for cooperation by Member States on implementation of regional infrastructure. This has indeed been a long and arduous journey which has seen very close consultations with member states facilitated by the SADC Secretariat, and I am indeed very delighted that we have now reached the end of this historic journey. It is in that vein that we fully acknowledge the pivotal role played by the Member States to this process through submissions that they made at every stage of the process.
It is also befitting that this process is taking place at a time when the continent has just crafted a continental blue print on infrastructure development, that is, the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), spearheaded by the African Union, to which the SADC region contributed immensely.
As a region, SADC is also working within the Tripartite Framework with our other two sister regional economic communities, EAC and COMESA, on joint resource mobilization and implementation of infrastructure development that will facilitate trade, regional integration and poverty reduction within the regional economic communities three blocks towards an integrated African Economic Community. The Master Plan addresses strategic issues regarding infrastructure development in the areas of Energy, Transport, Information and Communication Technology, Water, Meteorology and Tourism.
There is broad consensus that infrastructure constitutes the launch pad for Africa’s development and economic growth, and that unless and until, we address infrastructure deficiencies, our poverty reduction efforts will remain but a pipedream. It is now a well accepted reality that Africa and to a larger extent Eastern and Southern Africa has an Infrastructure deficit that severely hampers its competitiveness in the global market.
We are confident that the finalization of the Regional Master Plan is a watershed for the region, as SADC can now implement critical infrastructure around a programme on which we have attained consensus. It must however be noted, that the finalization of the Plan is not an end in itself, but a means to an end, as the region has to take concrete steps to scale up implementation. To this end, it is critical that substantial resources be allocated to activate the implementation road map based on an agreed Plan of Action.
To this end, our efforts should be concentrated on among others the following:
(i) Commitments towards the process of preparing and packaging our projects to bankability, especially those in the SADC Priority Action Plan, through the mechanism of the SADC Project Preparation and Development Fund (PPDF);
(ii) Ensuring that there is adequate capacitation of our Member States, the Secretariat and Regional bodies to facilitate coordination and oversight on project implementation;
(iii) Resourcing our programme on marketing the Plan as well as investment conferences in the region and other key destinations at the global level.
As one of the key outcomes of the Master Plan Development process, a recommendation has been made for a SADC Infrastructure Investment Summit, which will launch the projects in the Priority Action Plan by Heads of State, and will also profile the North-South Corridor, which is being championed by His Excellency President Zuma of the Republic of South Africa.
As we seek to move forward, it is critical that we seriously address some of the key impediments to implementation of infrastructure, which include concrete commitments by Member States, addressing the legal, regulatory and institutional framework, migration to cost reflective tariffs, constitution of the institutional structures as well as providing seed money for these projects from our own resources. This effort is the surest way of successfully uplifting the quality of lives of our people, through universal access to infrastructure.
I also note with satisfaction, that following consultations amongst our Heads of State during the Extra-Ordinary Summit held earlier this month here at Talatona, the SADC Heads of State are awaiting concrete proposals on scaling up infrastructure development, based on the Master Plan.
I am confident that this blueprint on infrastructure shall usher in opportunities to successfully address challenges relating to power shortfalls in the region, provision of seamless transport infrastructure and border facilities, delivery of a sound knowledge base through ICT development, development of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), enhancement of access to water for multiple applications, as well as provision of early warning mechanisms for weather and climate forecasting, thereby according the region a competitive edge in the continental and global markets.
The role of member States, our private sector, local and international investors, in facilitating the implementation of the Master Plan cannot be over emphasized, given that the total cost of investment for the projects within the SADC Infrastructure Vision 2027 is about USD 500.00. We will all need to exploit our comparative advantage to the full and support this important initiative if we are to register the much needed success in the regional integration and development agenda.
I am confident, Chairperson, that our Honorable Ministers will give us the needed policy guidance and assist us in preparing a winning submission to our Heads of State and Government at their next meeting in Maputo Mozambique, of this long awaited Master Plan. I am confident that we can work together with your goodselves and the Ministers of Finance, to roll out the priority projects in the Master Plan. The Master Plan has gone through all the necessary technical development cycles and consultations and what is left now is to take it through the last political structures to be accorded the final Seal of Approval.
Finally, let me commend you Honourable Ministers for the leadership that you continue to provide to the sector, which will also manifest itself during the planned implementation period. As Secretariat we shall do our best to support your efforts until we realize the intended ultimate.
- OFFICIAL OPENING REMARKS BY ENG. JOÃO CAHOLO, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY (REGIONAL INTEGRATION), ON THE OCCASION OF THE MEETING OF MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE ON ADOPTION OF THE THE SADC REGIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE MASTER PLAN ON 28 JUNE, 2012