Media Statement for the Post ICM Media Briefing by SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomáo, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 23, 2006

INTRODUCTION

The 2006 meeting of the SADC Integrated Committee of Ministers (ICM) was hosted by the Government of the Republic of South Africa on June 22 and 23, 2006 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

The ICM is responsible for ensuring proper policy guidance, coordination and harmonisation of cross-sectoral activities of SADC, through its functions which include overseeing activities of four directorates. These are: Trade, Industry, Finance, and Investment (TIFI); Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR); Infrastructure and Services (I and S); and Social and Human Development and Special Programmes (SHD and SP) as well as the cross-cutting issues of Gender Equality, Statistics, and Science and Technology. This mandate includes monitoring and evaluation of the work of the Secretariat and taking decisions to that would otherwise wait for a formal meeting of the Council of Ministers.

During this sitting, the ICM reviewed implementation of priorities of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) for 2005/2006 and execution of last year's ICM decisions.

REGIONAL INDICATIVE STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The ICM also noted that the implementation of the region's blue print for integration, the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), which was adopted by Summit in August 2003, completed the first of its 15-year lifespan during the fiscal year 2005/2006.

The RISDP has broad targets and priorities of which, five have been identified for immediate implementation. These are in the areas of Peace, Security and Democracy as pre-requisites for regional integration; Trade and Economic Liberalisation, Infrastructure and Services Development as the core area for regional integration; Human and Social imperatives such as HIV and AIDS, Food Security; and cross-cutting issues with critical bearing on these core integration areas of regional development. The RISDP has been unbundled into a management cycle of business plans within the 15, 5 and 1 year implementation framework. The ICM has urged the Member States to mainstream the RISDP into their national development plans and resolved to recommend to the Council of Ministers to approve the introduction of the policy and planning element into the structures of the priority Directorates. This will enhance the capacity of Directorates for operational planning, monitoring and reporting.

The meeting also approved and adopted Cluster Reports on the implementation of programmes and activities therein, including priorities for the next financial year.

In reviewing the progress and achievements of the four SADC Directorates in the last year, the ICM also took cognisance of the shortcomings and challenges that contributed to delays in executing some of the programmes and activities.
The challenges include inadequate human resources capacity for the Directorates which are below complement, as some senior positions are still in the process of being filled, while others remain frozen due to the absence of budgetary allocations.

I will now specifically address myself to the activities of the four Directorates and Cross-cutting issues units of the SADC Secretariat.

DIRECTORATE TRADE, INDUSTRY, FINANCE & INVESTMENT

The SADC Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) Cluster Ministers deliberated on the implementation of the 2006/07 priorities with the following outcomes:

On Goods and Services Market Integration, the ICM urged Member States to submit their gazetted SADC Tariff Phase Down schedules for 2006, noting the progress made on the Review of SADC Rules of Origin and urged Member States and Secretariat to finalise recommendations to Ministers responsible for Trade on the latter. These would expedite the implementation of the Protocol on Trade that will lead to the attainment of the SADC Free Trade Area by 2008.

With regard to the preparation for the SADC Customs Union the ICM requested Ministers of Trade and Finance to constitute a task force to spearhead activities leading to the formation of the SADC Customs Union by 2010. The ICM also urged Member States to expedite the decision on the extension of the agreement between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries and Malawi, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia (MMTZ) known as the SACU-MMTZ Textiles and Clothing Quota Arrangement that would allow the MMTZ countries to export these products to the SACU countries.

You may be aware that some of the SADC Member States belong to other economic blocks with different trade arrangements which presents concerns because legally, no one country is allowed to belong to more than one customs union. By 2010, SADC's own Customs Union will be in place and each country has to choose where it wants to belong to. The ICM has thus urged the Member States to submit their positions to the Secretariat on this issue. The ICM also requested Ministers of Trade to submit recommendations on overlapping trading arrangements to the Council of Ministers meeting in August 2006.

On Customs cooperation and Trade Facilitation, the ICM expressed appreciation for the financial support by the EU for the preparatory programmes for the establishment of a SADC Customs Union.

The ICM also deliberated on Five areas for Enhancing Productive Competitiveness and directed the Secretariat to expedite the establishment of the Science and Technology desk and to work on a comprehensive programme and resources required to support the TIFI Directorate in implementing the harmonisation framework, particularly the Protocol on Mining in general.

On Multilateral Trade Issues, the ICM noted the state of play of WTO Doha development Agenda (DDA) and the development in the SADC-EPA negotiations. A report on the DDA will be presented to the August 2006 Council of ministers. As regards Financial and Capital Markets Developments and Macroeconomic Convergence ICM noted the agenda of the Ministers of Finance, particularly the Draft SADC Finance and Investment Protocol (FIP) that will concretise the legal instruments in the area of finance and Investment.

ICM also noted the progress report of the EU-SADC Investment Promotion Programme (ESIPP) and the TIFI Business Plan 2006/07 and directed the Secretariat to ensure that the TIFI structure and staffing levels are adequately addressed in the planned job evaluation exercise.

DIRECTORATE OF SOCIAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND SPECIAL PROGRAMMES (SHD & SP)

The ICM noted that this Directorate continued to focus on policy issues and facilitation of the implementation of the programmes aimed at increasing access to quality social services such as education and health. In this regard, priority was accorded to the finalisation of Implementation Plans of the SADC Protocol on Education and Training and the SADC Protocol on Health which are now in force.

The ICM noted progress made in a number of areas, including health where progress was made especially in combating major communicable diseases such as HIV and AIDS and Malaria, which is one of the main priorities of the region.

In education, preparation has been undertaken to leverage resources for improving access to education and training through open and distance learning as well as the development of the national and the regional qualifications framework.

Key ICM decisions implemented by this Directorate during the period under review include the development of the SADC Pharmaceutical Plan and its Business Plan, development of the SADC Avian and Human Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan and the integration of the SADC Local Government Desk in to the SADC structure.

The ICM also noted the challenges and constraints that affected the Directorate in the process of discharging its duties, including the effective implementation of some of the 2005-06 approved priorities which was hampered by financial and human resource constraints as some of these priorities were not allocated resources in the 2005/6 Budget. Furthermore, the region needs to scale up interventions on combating communicable and non-communicable disease. Of particular concern is the limited progress made in combating tuberculosis despite it having been declared an emergency in Africa including the SADC region.

ICM also noted that the Cluster continued to face the problem of limited policy guidance and direction at the Ministerial level, especially in the areas of Labour and Employment; Culture, Information and Sports because Ministers in these areas have not had an opportunity to oversee the implementation of the RISDP and to adopt a common position at the continental and international levels as the relevant Senior Programme positions remain frozen.

The ICM has endorsed the Directorate's Business Plan and Priorities for 2007/08 and actions that would address some of these challenges and constraints and facilitate effective implementation of the RISDP. These priorities include coordination and implementation of Business Plans for the Protocols on Health and Education and Training; Strengthening of national quality assurance systems within the context of the Regional Qualifications Frameworks; Implementation of the SADC/African Development Bank (ADB) Project on Open and Distance Learning; Coordination and facilitating the implementation of programmes on the prevention and control of major communicable and non-communicable diseases including traumas and accidents and the development of a regional strategy to accelerate HIV and AIDS prevention in all SADC Member States.

INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES (I & S) DIRECTORATE

The ICM noted that the Directorate continued to facilitate programmes that promote access to transport, communications, energy, water and tourism by the rural disadvantaged and seeks to promote community participation in the mainstream business as a vehicle for poverty reduction and attainment of MDG targets and reviewed a number of projects undertaken by this Directorate during the period under review as follows:

Western Corridor Project (WESTCOR)

The ICM noted that the consortium of Westcor that seeks to address the diminishing electricity capacity in the region by exploiting the Congo waters at Inga III has established an office in Gaborone, Botswana and is now in the process of mobilising resources to kick start the project by constructing power transmission lines to countries in need of energy.

Electricity Access and Electricity Prices in the Region

ICM also noted that most of the SADC governments are assisting in the electrification drive of domestic consumers, especially the rural areas consumers to enhance the quality of life. Most SADC countries, the ICM noted have put in place policies and programmes to enhance access to energy by the disadvantaged rural populations in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The meeting further noted that for the year 2003/04 on average, 30% against a SADC targeted 70% access to modern forms of energy supplies to rural communities by 2018.

In an effort to meet the MDGs, ICM encouraged Member States to support and expedite reforms of their electricity utilities geared towards the provision of competent, efficient, cost effective and affordable energy services, especially to address access to modern energy by the rural communities.

The meeting also directed the SADC Secretariat to facilitate the sharing of regional best practice modalities regarding access, ownership, and financing options for rural electrification.

UNIVISA Programme

ICM noted that SADC continues to achieve a low market share in tourism on the global markets, due to low arrivals from global source markets, caused by some impediments including visa restrictions in the region to which effect the ICM resolved that the SADC Ministers responsible for tourism should meet to finalise the modalities for the UNIVISA implementation in consultation with key stakeholders.

RSA 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup Promotion Strategy

To maximise benefits on tourism from the RSA 2010 Soccer World Cup, SADC Council directed the Secretariat and the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) to formulate a strategy to benefit from visitors to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. The ICM reviewed the use of SADC Transfrontier Parks Conservation Parks as a major attraction for the event. Member States are now making proposals on how to benefit from the 2010 World Cup be in a report the ICM will review on the issue.

Liberalisation of air transport market

The ICM noted and commended the progress made by the region with institutional reforms aimed at enabling full implementation of the air transport liberalisation process in line with Article 9.2 of the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology that requires SADC countries to implement gradual air transport liberalisation of intra-regional air transport markets for the SADC airlines.

FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCE (FANR)

The ICM noted progress the Directorate made in the implementation of the RISDP and the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security as follows: The food security situation for most Member States has improved this year as compared to last year which means the region is likely to require less humanitarian assistance.

This is due to measures taken by Member States to implement the May 2004 Summit Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security enhanced by the improved rainfall during the 2005/06 season. Some countries like, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, have reported surplus maize production while Namibia, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe have indicated significant increase in production. Total regional cereal production for 2006 is assessed at 21.31 million tonnes, which is 15 percent lower than last year's production of 24.99 million tonnes.

This is due to a substantial reduction in maize production in South Africa from 11.45 million tonnes in 2005 to the 2006 forecast of 6 million tonnes. Regional maize harvest for 2006 is estimated at 15.78 million tonnes, representing a 20% decrease over last year's harvest of 19.74 million tonnes. Other harvests are estimated at 2.82 wheat; 713,000 rice and 1.84 sorghum/millet million times.

The ICM also noted the increase in cassava production of which 22.03 million tonnes reflecting an increase of 19 per cent over last years' production of 18.47 million tonnes.

The ICM also reviewed main challenges affecting food production in particular, key inputs and water management. Regarding the inputs, where the Secretariat in collaboration with Member States and COMESA has developed a Draft Regional Fertiliser Strategy aiming at improving access and use of fertilisers. It also aims to bring closer, achievement of the NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) goal of attaining a 6% annual agricultural growth at national level by 2015.

In the area of water management and irrigation, ICM noted progress in developing a regional programme in the Upper Okavango, Middle and Lower Zambezi/ Shire water basins of which the first two sub-basin programmes estimated at about US$138 million will be submitted to the African Development Bank (AfDB) Board of Governors in August 2006 for possible funding, while the last one is being appraised.

The ICM urged Member States to be vigilant in their livestock surveillance and control of transboundary animal diseases in order to promote production and trade in livestock and livestock products.

To avert the Avian Influenza, the ICM also approved a ban on imports of poultry and poultry products and other birds from infected countries in compliance with the World Institute responsible for Livestock Health (OIE) recommendations.

ICM approved a 5-year programme on Strengthening Institutions for Risk Management of Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) In the SADC Region which aims at enhancing animal health through improved capacity for detection, identification, monitoring and surveillance of TADs in the region costing US$21.86 million which will be presented to the AfDB in July 2006 for funding.

The ICM noted with satisfaction that some Member States made considerable progress in developing National Strategies on Sustainable Development.

Further, the ICM approved legal frame works to fast track the development of the SADC Protocol on the Environment will regulate regional cooperation on environmental trans boundary natural resource management.

The ICM also approved the SADC Regional Biodiversity Strategy and urged the SADC Secretariat to implement it as soon as possible as well as recognised Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) as viable wealth creation opportunities from biological resources through the harmonisation of policies within the region within the frame work of the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement.

ICM approved the priorities for this cluster which will form the basis of the 2007/2008 work plan and budget of the FANR Directorate.

The media are key stakeholders and frontliners in the road to regional development and integration and the over 230 million citizens of the region need to be informed constantly of developments taking place foremost in our region and of the rest of the world. This can only be successfully done with the support of the media.

I thank you

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28 June 2006

 

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