Southern Times, Namibia
FTA, Customs Union SADC priorities - Salomao
By Southern Tmes Writer
17 August 2010
WINDHOEK - Consolidation of the Free Trade Area and preparations towards a Customs Union remain SADC’s priorities in order to deepen regional integration, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao said in remarks at the 30th anniversary jubilee summit of Heads of State and Government, in Windhoek, Namibia yesterday.
’In the same vain, we will continue to engage with COMESA and EAC to create the grand FTA,’ he added.
Dr Salomao said the past year had been characterised by a number of achievements and challenges in the 15-member bloc.
The region was still reeling from global economic crisis and it was gratifying to note that the implementation of the national interventions as well as the regional responses strategy were beginning to bear fruit.
On infrastructure, he said the region was expected to attain self-sufficience by the 2013/2014 fiscal year.
The process of developing the SADC Infrastructure Master Plan was also ongoing and was expected to be completed early next year.
He said through the efforts of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, the region remained one of the most stable on the African continent and this had created the much needed environment to host big sporting events such as the AFCON in Angola in January and the World Cup in South Africa in June.
Commendable progress has been made with regard to implementation of the Maseru Declaration on HIV and Aids and the Dar Es Salaam on Food Security.
’The provision of a Ring Fenced HIV and AIDS Fund based on member state contributions has given interventions on HIV and AIDS the much needed momentum.
The signing of the Protocol on Gender and Development has given the region the latitude and legitimacy to scale up gender mainstreaming and equality in all aspects of society,’ Dr Salomao said.
He paid tribute to Dr Keneth Kaunda, a founding father of SADC and former heads of state who are attending the summit, Joachim Chissano of Mozambique, Ketumile Masire, of Botswana and Namibia’s Dr Sam Nujoma.
’As we celebrate and commemorate the SADC 30th anniversary durign this summit, we can look back with satisfaction that the region has continued to pursue developmental integration strategies guided by our noble vision and ideals,’ said Dr Salomao.
’The road we have walked has not always been a rosy one, we encountered many challenges, but the region demonstrated that it has the pedigree to overcome these challenges, underpinned by our unity of purpose, which is the hallmark of SADC.’
He said SADC had come of age ’as a brand’ as it had grown from strength to strength through various initiatives taken to refocus the SADC Programme of Action over the years.
’Our priorities have been clearly articulated as espoused by the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and he Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ (SIPO), our blue prints for regional development.
’A reflection of our achievements in the last 30 years ushers an opportunity for the region to recalibrate its trajectory to ensure scaling up of implementation of priority projects, informed by the outcomes of the ongoing review of the RISDP and SIPO. This shall enable the region to scale up the process of deepening integration as well as pursue our overaching objective of poverty reduction, he said.’