SA welcomes SADC regional infrastructure master plan
SOUTH Africa has welcomed the adoption of a regional infrastructure master plan by Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders. The SADC Heads of State approved the plan, which is expected to boost regional trade, following their two-day summit in Maputo, Mozambique. To be implemented over a 15 year period beginning from 2013.
The plan will serve as a key strategy to guide the setting up of efficient and cost-effective trans-boundary infrastructure connecting all SADC member states in areas of energy, water, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and transport.
The region’s infrastructure in critical sectors is said to be so poor that a deficit was estimated to be about US$100bn. South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, noted that the new plan will put emphasis on the cross border infrastructure that South Africa identifies in its own Strategic Infrastructure Plan adopted by government recently.
South Africa has always argued that the biggest barriers to promoting a more equitable pattern of interregional trade, which is what SADC members want to see, has always been a lack of a common plan that links the countries. It’s still not clear how funding for the infrastructure plan will be structured considering that countries are still battling to put together even the Regional Development Fund (RDF) that was agreed to in previous summits.
The RDF was intended as a financial mechanism to mobilise resources from member states and private sector to finance projects for regional development and integration. The African Development Bank had proposed that a funding mechanism in the form of an infrastructure bond be established to speed up the plan. The bank had asked SADC countries to put 5% of their foreign reserves estimated at US$22bn towards the establishment of the initiative.