> Timo Shihepo
Windhoek – The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Member States have been urged to complete the promising but pending SADC projects that are projected to lift the region to a certain standard.
SADC countries have proposed developmental projects with the majority of them yet to materialise.
Some of these include the SADC’s Inga US$5 billion electricity project, the Trans-Kalahari rail way, the one stop border post between Namibia and Zambia subsequently reaching to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The proposed single SADC passport initiative is also yet to take off.
SADC Secretariat’s Head of Public Relations Leefa Martin told The Southern Times that there is a need to complete some of the projects. Martin said the media also needs to play a role of reminding regional leaders about what needs to be done.
“It’s good that the media is raising these issues because, you are the voice of the SADC citizens and when you raise these issues you bring it to the attention of the SADC leaders as the Secretariat does not have the authority to enforce or compel the leaders to act on policies.”
Polytechnic of Namibia’s Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Research, Dr Andrew Niikondo said there is a need to implement the total idea of the free trade and free movement within the SADC region.
“First of all we need to get rid of the free movement restrictions. Just imagine if someone has to come to work on a site for example like on the Trans-Kalahari project and its urgent, he or she still needs a visa, even us (in the academic institutions) when inviting a certain professor within SADC to come oversee or give a hand at certain project a visa is required and these things take time.
“I really think this is the main problem and as long as we don’t find a solution to deal with this then many of these projects will not take off,” he said.
He also spoke of the issue of sovereignty saying that individualism in SADC countries will hamper the progress of many projects.
“As you will find countries saying that if you have to come to my country, this is my territory, these are my rules and you have to obey them. Of course there are some SADC projects going on well but we need to speed up others if we want to improve more,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Namibia Chamber of Industry and Commerce (NCCI) Tarah Shaanika said there are many reasons why some projects do not materialise, which include the fact that the developmental levels of the different SADC countries are way below others.
“So what is regarded as a priority in one country may not be regarded as a priority in another. Also some governments do not simply have the capacity to support major projects while others have taken the idea of sovereignty too far that even when it comes to facilitating one major SADC project they still ask a whole set of requirements,” he said.
The region also needs to improve border posts services, Shaanika said, adding that procedures at the borders are so much different that people spent a lot of time trying to access the borders while they should be already be getting down to business.
“Moreover, I think if we can have one visa for SADC for international visitors we will also smoothen the business operations in the region as the visitor will not have to waste time by waiting for different visas to be processed. This will allow the person to conduct business freely in SADC,” he said.
Shaanika said the issue of security in some countries in the region is also a factor in allowing the projects to be finalised.
“Some of our countries are not politically stable thus it will be difficult to implement some of the projects. Really if we can work on some of these things they will really deepen the regional integration which will in turn enhance and improve the environment in which our business can thrive thoroughly.
“Of course we have the Trans-Kalahari road and some infrastructure in some SADC countries are of top notch but if we harmonise the developments together as the SADC region our region would much better off than it is now.”