“When resources are degraded, we start competing for them, whether it is at the local level, where we had tribal clashes over land and water, or at the global level, where we are fighting over water, oil, and minerals. So one way to promote peace is to promote sustainable management and equitable distribution of resources”. – Wangari Maathai
The long-awaited blueprint for infrastructure development in Southern Africa was finally approved at the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Maputo, Mozambique last year. The shared vision for development among member states will look towards further economic and political cooperation as various major sectors; including water, transport and energy resources, are due to become target areas for cross-border infrastructure projects over the next fifteen years. The major highlight of the Summit was the adoption of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan Vision 2027, a 15-year blueprint that will guide the implementation of cross-border infrastructure projects between 2013 and 2027.
“The plan will serve as a key strategic framework to guide the implementation of efficient, seamless and cost-effective transboundary infrastructure networks in an integrated and coordinated manner in all the six sectors, namely energy, transport, tourism, ICT and postal, meteorology and water,” SADC said in a communiqué issued after the Summit.
The master plan which is already in place, will be implemented over three five-year intervals short term (2012-2017), medium term (2017-2022) and long term (2022-2027).
In the energy sector, for example, the plan addresses four key areas of Energy Security, improving access to modern energy services, tapping the abundant energy resources and upscaling financial investment whilst enhancing environmental sustainability.
Regarding the sub-sectors of road, rail, ports, inland waterways and air transport networks, the Transport Sector Plan addresses four critical areas, namely improving access to the seamless transport corridors value chain; reducing the cost of transportation; enhancing competitiveness and providing safe and secure transport services.
Other key areas to be targeted include the water, tourism, meteorology and information communication technology sectors to ensure socio-economic development in the region.
The master plan is in line with the African Union’s Programme for Infrastructure Development of Africa (PIDA) and will constitute a key input into the proposed Infrastructure Master Plan for the COMESA-the East African Community-SADC tripartite.
To finance this, ministers of finance are responsible for raising capital for the SADC Regional Development Fund from member states, the privates sector and development partners. Seed capital of US1.2 billion is to be raised as soon as possible.
Some of the of the projects in the pipeline include: 1) the Kazungula Bridge linking Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, 2) power transmission (ZiZaBoNa) Zimbabwe,
Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, 3) the Benguela T railway line through Angola and Zambia as well as more big dam projects.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in her newly elected position as Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said in her address to the SADC Summit, “Only through the building of sustainable infrastructure in the form of integrated rail, air, roads, telecommunications and electricity between and among the regions can we succeed in ensuring inter and intra-African trade between all our peoples.”
The SADC Summit also approved and signed a protocol on ‘Trade in Services’. This agreement will be to the advantage of the South African financial services sector as well as international banks that own a large share of South African Banks. For example, Barclays UK has a majority stake in ABSA. In addition, the Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China Limited has acquired a 20% stake in Standard Bank. But, Banks from the region look set to be disadvantaged.
In as much as there are sincere execution of capital projects and human development, the road to sustainable wealth creation and distribution among countries of the region is near. Every “economically strong” country should not shy away from rendering assistance to others that are not “too strong” economically. It is and will always be for the entire good of the region and Africa as whole, especially now that the real meaning of aids from the developed countries has to be defined and clearly stated.