The Ambassador of Switzerland to South Africa, with accreditation to Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia and Swaziland, H.E. Mrs Helene Budliger Artieda, paid a courtesy call on the SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana on 12th October 2016.
In her discussion with the Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo, Ambassador Artieda indicated that the Federal Government of Switzerland is willing to strengthen relationships with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) while cherishing bilateral cooperation relationships, and her appointment as the first Swiss Observer to SADC translates this direction. She explained that a number of projects have been carried out in the region, mainly on skills development and vocational education programmes which is one of the domains of expertise of the Swiss Cooperation.
The Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration conveyed his appreciations to the Federal Government of Switzerland for such initiative of strengthening relationships with RECs. He stated that skills development and vocational education programmes would benefit the regional integration agenda and are essential means for achieving SADC priorities. He recognised the importance of skills development on, among others, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Development, Agro-processing, Youth Entrepreneurships, and Women Mediators on Peace and Security, in the implementation of SADC priorities described in the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (the Revised RISDP 2015-2020), which are: 1) Industrial Development and Market Integration; 2) Infrastructure in support of regional integration; 3) Peace and security cooperation; and 4) Special programmes of regional dimension (including natural resources, agriculture and food security).
The meeting noted that the Federal Government of Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), already works closely with the SADC Secretariat, and the project “Strengthening, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) Systems for Orphans, Vulnerable Children (OVC) and Youth in SADC” is currently implemented for the period of 2014 to 2019. The objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of SADC Member States and the Secretariat to generate and utilise age, gender and vulnerability disaggregated evidence and information on OVC and youth to inform policy development, implementation and progress reporting.
The Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration thanked Ambassador Artieda for visiting SADC, and appreciated the continued cooperation to the SADC Secretariat. He conveyed the Secretariat’s readiness to continued cooperation with the Federal Government of Switzerland, in order to accelerate regional integration in Southern Africa through, among others, skills development and vocational education initiatives.