The Southern African Development Community (SADC) remains committed to fostering relations with the Government of the Republic of Finland in a number of areas for the benefit of SADC citizens, the SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has said.
Speaking during a virtual introductory courtesy call to her by the Finnish Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa and designated Special Representative to SADC, H.E. Mrs. Anne Lammila, on 18th May 2021, Dr Tax commended Finland for the cordial relations with SADC both at national and regional level.
She highlighted that Finland is well-known for its expertise in science and innovation, and indicated that the SADC Region stands ready to benefit from the expertise from Finland, especially in the digitisation era.
Dr Tax further highlighted that SADC is looking at capacity building to effectively implement the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063, especially in the area of value chains, research and science and innovation.
Cooperation between Finland and SADC dates back to 2015 when the Finnish government supported the development of the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio), through Phase II of the Finnish-Southern Africa Partnership Programme to strengthen NEPAD/SANBio (BioFISA) in 2015–2018, to the tune of €6 million.
In 2018, Finland supported the Energy and Environment Partnership Programme in Southern and East Africa (EEP S&EA), focusing on the development of renewable energy. Phase III of the programme is running from 2018 to 2022 and aims to enhance energy security, improve energy efficiency, and mitigate climate change. It has provided access to renewable energy for over 900,000 households in Southern and Eastern Africa, and over 8,000 jobs have been created.
Finland also contributed to the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) to promote economic growth and poverty reduction through funding of €8.7 million for Phase II (2017-2021) of the programme. The programme provides information about local markets and involves five SADC Member States, namely Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
The SADC Executive Secretary congratulated Ambassador Lammila for the appointment and welcomed her to the SADC Region. Ambassador Lammila expressed delight to the Executive Secretary's warm welcome, and congratulated Dr Tax on her appointment as the new Chairperson of the UONGOZI Institute in the United Republic of Tanzania. The institute supports African leaders to attain sustainable development for their countries and Africa as a whole.
The Ambassador Lammila also expressed Finland's desire to collaborate with SADC both at national and regional levels, especially in the areas of education, science, technology and innovation. The Finnish government is currently in collaboration with three SADC Member States, namely Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, while discussions with Botswana are underway.
The two parties agreed to deepen existing cooperation and to identify specific areas of collaboration in line with the Finland's Africa Strategy and SADC priorities as outlined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030.