Sadc region strikes partnership deal

The Windhoek Declaration on a New SADC-ICP Partnership, adopted on 27 April at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Consultative Conference in Namibia, provides for a fresh start in the donor-recipient relationship between the regional body and its ICPs. The Declaration will guide future cooperation between SADC and the ICPs by establishing an institutional structure for dialogue on political, policy and technical issues, and improve coordination of efforts between the two parties to ensure more effective development cooperation. It will also ensure alignment, harmonisation and streamlining of operational procedures, rules and other practices in the delivery of development assistance to SADC, and guarantee synergies and complementarity of support provided at national and regional levels. SADC Executive Secretary, Tomaz Augusto Salom’o, said the new partnership framework will create an environment for more and better aid for greater development impact in the SADC region. “The objective of the New Partnership is to contribute towards the achievement of the SADC Common Agenda, in particular, the attainment of the SADC mission of promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient productive systems; deeper cooperation and integration; good governance; stronger capacity and participation of stakeholders; and durable peace and security,” said Salom’o. The ICPs pledged their continued support for southern Africa and noted that the challenges for SADC were to ensure provision of “renewed leadership” and to assume greater ownership of regional programmes and projects. Irene Freudenshuss-Reichl, Director-General for Development at the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, announced that the European Union (EU) has a new development policy, the European Consensus on Development, which defines the values, objectives, principles and modalities of EU development aid. Under the new policy, EU member states have resolved to increase national aid budgets to at least 0.7 percent of Gross National Incomes (GNIs) of the respective countries by 2015. The intermediate target is to have aid budgets accounting for 0.56 percent of national GNIs by 2010. Half of this aid increase will come to Africa, said Freudenshuss-Reichl. The 14-member SADC group has set the target of becoming a Free Trade Area (FTA) by 2008 and a Customs Union by 2010, with the ultimate objective of transforming into a Common Market by 2015. Baledzi Gaolathe, chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers and Botswana’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning, noted that, despite individual disparities in economic performance, southern Africa was making steady progress in achieving regional integration. Driven by the need to rapidly reduce poverty and achieve sustainable levels of development, he said the SADC region had embarked on a number of economic reforms, “which are already producing some tangible results.” Average real GDP growth for the region was 4.1 percent in 2004, up from 3.2 percent in 2003, he said. Two thirds of the countries in the region have single digit inflation rates. The latest of these countries is Zambia, which recorded a 1.3 percentage drop in its annual inflation from 10.7 percent in March to 9.4 percent in April. Various commitments were made by both SADC and the ICPs in terms of implementation of southern Africa’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (SIPO). The RISDP and SIPO are SADC’s 15-year development blueprints outlining regional priorities in the area of trade and economic liberalisation; infrastructure development; food security; human and social development; conflict prevention; and stability, peace and security. The Windhoek conference, which drew participants from all of SADC’s major development partners, was convened to seek ICP support for the roll-out of the two blueprints. Key areas of cooperation agreed at the conference were the establishment of the FTA, Customs Union and Common Market; support for infrastructure development in the transport, energy and communications sectors; food security; HIV and AIDS; human resources development; and peace, political stability and security in the region. ‘

May 2006
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