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SADC Infrastructure Ministers: statement from Luanda meeting

Luanda: The Meeting of the SADC Ministers Responsible for Infrastructure was held at the HCTA, in Luanda, Angola on 28 June 2012. The Meeting was convened to review and recommend to Council and Summit the consideration and adoption of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP).

In his Opening Remarks the Chairperson, Host and Guest of Honour, Honourable Augusto Tomaz da Silva, Minister for Transport of the Republic of Angola welcomed his colleagues to Luanda.  He highlighted the importance of the RIDMP as a framework for advancing the promotion of socio-economic development and deepening the implementation of the regional integration agenda.

Honourable da Silva noted the importance of infrastructure development in promoting trade, agriculture, mining and tourism which are pivotal to improving the quality of lives of the people of the Region. He drew the attention of the meeting to the commitment of His Excellency President dos Santos to the promotion of Infrastructure as a driver for economic development and regional integration. Finally he urged SADC Member States to collaborate in implementing of the RIDMP.

The SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Regional Integration, Engineer Joao Caholo,  thanked the Member States, particularly the Ministers Responsible for infrastructure and their officials for their support throughout the process of the Master Plan study by providing the relevant information without which the exercise would have not been a success. He also expressed the commitment of the Secretariat to continue to facilitate and coordinate the processes necessary for the sustainable implementation of the SADC RIDMP.

Her Excellency, Dr. Elham M. A. Ibrahim, the Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union (AU) Commission expressed the appreciation of the AU in being invited to participate in the development of the SADC RIDMP which is the first comprehensive regional infrastructure master plan. She also appreciated that the SADC RIDMP has been aligned with the Programme for Infrastructure Development (PIDA).  She commended SADC for the work undertaken in formulating the RIDMP. 

The meeting noted that the process of drafting the RIDMP commenced after the "Brainstorming Session of the SADC Summit on Regional infrastructure Development" held in, Lusaka, Zambia, in August 2007.  The Summit directed Council to oversee the development of a comprehensive SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP). The RIDMP will be the basis for future cooperation on regional infrastructure development and a framework for planning and cooperation with development partners and the private sector.

The RIDMP captures the priority infrastructure projects that will be implemented in the following timeframes: short term – 2012 to 2017, medium term - 2017 to 2022; and long term- 2022 to 2027. This is in line with the SADC Vision 2027 a fifteen (15) year implementation horizon for forecasting infrastructure requirements in the Region. The RIDMP is also in line with the African Union’s Programme for Infrastructure Development of Africa (PIDA). It shall also constitute a key input into the proposed Infrastructure Master Plan for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) –East African Community (EAC) - SADC Tripartite.

The Ministers noted that as a Strategic Framework, the Master Plan will guide implementation of coordinated, integrated, efficient, seamless and cost-effective trans-boundary infrastructure networks in all the six sectors of Energy; Transport; Tourism; Information Communication Technology (ICT); Meteorology and Water.

In the Energy Sector it was noted that the Plan will address four key areas of energy security, improving access to modern energy services, tapping the abundant energy resources and up scaling financial investment whilst enhancing environmental sustainability. Regarding the sub sectors of road, rail, ports, inland waterways and air transport networks, the Transport Sector Plan seeks to address four key areas namely; improving access to seamless transport corridors value chain, reducing cost of transportation, enhance competitiveness and providing safe and secure transport services.

The ICT Sector Plan is designed to address four key areas namely; ensuring accessibility including universal access to broadband ICT technologies, accelerating regional integration through broadband interconnectivity within and among Member States, reducing the cost of doing business and improving reliability and security of ICT infrastructure.

The Water Sector Plan prioritises five goals which include increasing the overall water storage in the Region, irrigated land for food security, hydropower generation for energy security, increasing access to safe drinking water and enhancing sanitation services for the citizens of SADC.

The Tourism Sector Plan is geared towards achieving enhanced socio-economic development, facilitating joint marketing of SADC as a single destination, increasing tourism arrivals and tourism receipts from source markets and developing the Tourism Sector in an environmentally sustainable manner.

For the Meteorology Sector Plan, emphasis has been placed on the need to ensure the availability of timely early warning information relating to adverse weather and climate variability impacts. Emphasis has also been placed on developing a framework for harmonized indicators for the provision of relevant climate forecasting information to facilitate preparations of mitigation measures against droughts, floods and cyclones.

The identified priority infrastructure projects will be implemented at a cost of approximately 500 billion United States dollars with transport, energy and water taking up the major share of the funding requirements. The RIDMP projects have been mapped into a dynamic Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Database, which will facilitate the planning, coordination and monitoring of project implementation.

A Plan of Action has been developed to guide the Region towards implementation of the RIDMP. Some of the critical elements for implementing the Plan of Action include Mechanisms for Funding and Institutional Structures for Monitoring and Evaluation of the implementation of the projects.

The Ministers emphasized that the RIDMP is a means to an end, and not an end in itself, and that the real work commences with the packaging of projects. Amongst other things they stressed that Member States and Implementing Agencies have to be committed to the process and that institutions that will be responsible for coordination and implementation should be adequately capacitated. They also stressed that in order to attract private sector funding, projects must be prepared to bankability and there must be evidence of commitment by Member States to ensure sustainability of funding for the projects.

Certain Critical Success Factors have to be met in order to realize the objectives of the Plan. In adopting the RIDMP, the Ministers mandated the Secretariat to facilitate and coordinate the convening of SADC Infrastructure Investment Conference between January and March 2013.  They also directed that the Secretariat must prepare a Declaration for consideration by Council and submission to Summit in August 2013.

In giving a vote of thanks, the Vice Chair, Honourable Paulo Francisco Zucula, Minister for Transport and Communications of the Republic of Mozambique expressed gratitude to the people and Government of the Republic of Angola for the warm hospitality and conducive environment provided for the meeting. He also commended the Secretariat for the organization of the meeting.

4 July 2012
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