The Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) has made no progress in implementing its all-inclusive economic integration as the bloc has failed to reach the various milestones set out in its Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP).
The blueprint, spanning from 2013 to 2018, envisaged that Sadc would achieve integration in the areas of free trade area (FTA) by 2008, customs union (2010), common market (2015), monetary union (2016) and an economic union with a single currency by 2018.
However, only the FTA is up and running with a draft revised version of the RISDP to be reviewed during the 35th Sadc heads of State and government summit in Gaborone, Botswana from August 17 to 18.
The review focuses on consolidating the FTA and does not include steps toward the economic integration of the goals during this period.
Boitumelo Gofhamodimo, Sadc director of Trade Industry, Finance and Investment, is upbeat on the full implementation of the plan as the regional body is still firmly committed to the principles of economic integration.
“The set milestones remain relevant in the medium- to long-term period and a thorough assessment is still to be undertaken within the framework of the revised RISDP, to set out reasonable timeframes but most importantly, to ensure a solid foundation has been created to enable the region to advance its integration process.
At the summit, the Malawi delegation is being led by Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister George Chaponda to whom President Peter Mutharika delegated his powers to cut costs.
Briefing members of the Malawi media in Gaborone, Chaponda said the President is being exemplary by delegating his powers as government continues to emphasise on the need to exercise financial prudence.
“I will be leading the delegation from Malawi as the President cannot make it due to a number of reasons, including cutting on government spending. As government, we value the importance of the Sadc summit, but you know everywhere the president goes, he has a delegation of about 30 people and people will appreciate that we are still struggling with the after effects of Cashgate. We have little money for spending,” explained Chaponda.
Under the theme ‘Accelerating Industrialisation of Sadc Economies Through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital’, the summit will among other issues discuss matters that directly benefit Malawi, according to Chaponda.
“It will look at regional projects including the rehabilitation of Kamuzu and Chileka international airports, the Green Belt Initiative and the Malawi-Mozambique electricity interconnector project,” said the minister.
Apart from Chaponda, the Malawi delegation also includes ministers of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza, Industry and Trade Joseph Mwanamvekha and Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila.
Sadc is a 15-member State regional bloc that aims at fostering closer regional ties through trade.