The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has, since its establishment in 1980, created vibrant institutions which have strengthened regional mechanisms to facilitate deeper regional integration.
According to the recently released publication, 40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration, these institutions include the River Basin Organisations (RBOs), Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), SADC Climate Services Centre, SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), Centres of Excellence, Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme (RVAA), SADC Accreditation Services (SADCAS), Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF).
40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration brings to light the history of SADC and key achievements that the Region has made since 1980. It was launched in Maputo, Mozambique, on 23rd June 2021 during the Extraordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government. The publication highlights the major milestones and achievements as well as the challenges encountered by the regional bloc over the past 40 years.
The establishment of RBOs and TFCAs across the SADC Region has over the years improved transboundary management of resources and cooperation in water and other natural resources cooperation, thus reducing potential conflicts over shared resources. The Region has a total of 13 major watercourses which are shared by two or more countries. SADC has acknowledged the importance of shared water resources for development and regional integration, recognising that these resources cannot be managed effectively within the restrictive context of national boundaries.
TFCAs are conservation initiatives that straddle national boundaries of two or more Member States and are jointly administered to re-establish the ecological integrity of transboundary ecosystems separated by international boundaries. To date there are 18 terrestrial and marine TFCAs in the Region at different stages of development, including the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and conservation area established in 2002 by the governments of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Achievements in the energy sector have been realised through the establishment of the Protocol on Energy in 1996. The Protocol is under review to consolidate the policy and regulatory environment for the Region’s energy sector, as well as to align it to new and emerging trends. The Protocol on Energy has allowed SADC to establish vibrant institutions to coordinate energy development in the Region. These institutions are the SAPP established in August 1995; the Regional Electricity Regulators Association of Southern Africa (RERA) launched in 2002; and the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) that became operational in 2018. SAPP is tasked with coordinating the planning, generation, transmission and marketing of electricity in Southern Africa, while SACREEE spearheads the promotion of renewable energy development in the Region. RERA facilitates the development of regional regulatory policies, legislation and regulations as well as monitoring and evaluation of electricity regulatory practices among Member States, and supports the development of energy regulators in the Region. Through SAPP, the Region has a viable platform where power generating entities in SADC can easily share electricity loads, market surpluses and manage deficits. To date, nine of the 12 mainland SADC Member States are interconnected to the regional grid through SAPP, allowing them to trade in electricity. These are Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The SADC PF was established in August 1997 at the SADC Summit in Blantyre, Malawi. It is hosted by Namibia as an autonomous institution comprising the national parliaments of Member States and seeks to promote dialogue and popular participation to familiarise and bring SADC closer to the people of the Region, strengthening the concept of community building.
The first historic steps have been taken towards the transformation of the SADC PF into a Regional Parliament with the establishment of a taskforce to analyse the proposed transformation. A Regional Parliament would facilitate more extensive debate on regional issues and thus accelerate the implementation of SADC protocols that need to be ratified and domesticated into national legislation, and become a key driver of integration and development, bridging the gap between citizens and regional integration processes.
To facilitate the faster implementation of programmes, SADC has established Centres of Excellence (CoEs) and Centres of Specialisation (CoS) covering priority areas, including SACREEE. Frameworks and guidelines have been approved for the establishment of CoEs and CoS in other thematic areas.
The RVAA Programme was established in 1999 and is being implemented in 15 Member States. This has evolved to be one of the most reliable and robust early warning tools for agriculture as well as food and nutrition security interventions in the Region. As part of this programme, most Member States have established national vulnerability assessment committees that conduct annual vulnerability assessments. These contribute towards the RVAA which provides the status of food and nutrition insecurity in the Region and informs decisions to address it.
The SADCAS was established in 2005 to coordinate accreditation services in 13 Member States that do not have national accreditation bodies. The SADCAS operational model, which is the first multi-economy accreditation body in the world, has proven to be a viable, cost-effective and sustainable model that optimises the use limited financial and human resources.
SADC established SARCOF to improve climate and weather forecasting. SARCOF provides a platform for Member States to review and forecast the rainfall season in the Region, and discuss the potential impacts of the seasonal climate outlook on socio-economic sectors including disaster risk management, food security, health, water resources and hydropower management. SARCOF meets annually in August/September, and has released seasonal probability forecasts to help Member States to prepare for their agricultural season, including early warning of natural disasters such as floods, limiting the impact on citizens. This coordinated approach has allowed countries to share information on time, thereby mitigating any potential threats.
An early warning system has been installed at the SADC Climate Services Centre and it has several functions. Some of the functions include the provision of operational regional climate information services to monitor and provide forecasts for all seasonal climatic conditions. Further to this, the system provides for the development and distribution of meteorological, environmental and hydro-meteorological products.