The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers of responsible for Transport, Information Communication Technologies (ICT), Information and Meteorology met on 9th July 2021 to discuss various sectoral issues of infrastructure development in support of SADC regional integration and development.
The meeting was officially opened by the Honourable Janfar Abdulai, the Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Mozambique, and Chairperson of the SADC Committee of Ministers Responsible for Transport, ICT, Information, and Meteorology.
Hon. Abdulai said as one of the founding members of SADC, Mozambique was committed to the implementation of SADC decisions as well as other initiatives aimed at capitalising on its potential in the transport and communications sector. He noted that this year 2021 has witnessed the completion of regional projects such as construction of the Kazungula Bridge linking Botswana and Zambia; the launch, by His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique and Chairperson of SADC, of the SADC Centre for Humanitarian and Emergency Operations, in Nacala; and the installation of meteorological equipment in SADC Member States to improve the early warning system and the field of information and communication technologies in meteorology.
He said Mozambique's geostrategic location and the existence of a complex of road, rail and port infrastructure gave the country enhanced accountability in the Region, especially in logistics for imports and exports from the hinterland Member States.
In the communications field, he said, the Region faces challenges to meet the goals of promoting access to broadband to reduce the digital divide and accelerate the development of SADC countries. The COVID-19 pandemic demanded quality in telecommunications to enable telework, therefore there was a need for these goals to be achieved immediately and not in 2025 as planned. Hon. Abdulai said at a time the effects of climate change were already being felt in the world and in the Region, SADC was challenged to harmonise and complement the different strategies and actions for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of Meteorological and Hydrological services.
In her remarks, SADC Executive Secretary Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax highlighted notable achievements recorded in the transport, ICT, information, and meteorology sectors. These include effective implementation of the Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology where a number of programmes and projects have been implemented, including the development of Model Legislative Provisions (MLPs) that have served as guidelines for implementation of agreed policies.
A SADC Corridor Management Strategy was approved in 2008, and has served as the basic framework for cooperation and coordination in transport integration. The corridors strategy focuses on developing legal instruments for joint governance of corridors; institutional frameworks for joint and coordinated management of transport corridors; and prioritisation and implementation of critical corridor transport and logistics infrastructure.
In the ICT sector, the Region saw the establishment of two cross-border terrestrial optical fibre links for regional and international transit traffic, and 26 SADC Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), a vital component of the Internet eco-system, accounting for 57% share of the IXPs in Africa.
The establishment of the SADC Climate Services Centre has contributed to the enhancement of the capacity of the Region in production and dissemination of timely and credible meteorological and climate information that is used for socio-economic planning, and disaster risk management.
As the SADC region prepares for the post-pandemic era, and set to implement the SADC Vision 2050 and the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-30, Dr Tax urged Member States to redouble their efforts to harness the potential of digital technologies for socio-economic growth and development. On this note, Dr Tax noted that as the Region makes advances in ICT, it was also exposed to potential cyber threats and risks, and therefore urged Member States to expedite the review and modernisation of the SADC cyber-security model laws, and to put in place National Cyber Security Strategy so as to secure the cyberspace and unlock the full potential of the digital transformation.
In the postal sector, the Executive Secretary commended Member States for the ongoing postal digital transformation efforts which are aimed at ensuring long-term relevancy and diversity of the sector.
Key outcomes of the Ministers’ meeting
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