afrol News, 17 March - The long-awaited launch of the Regional Infrastructure Master Plan for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) later this year is expected to guide development in key infrastructure such as road, rail, ports and electricity.
Ultimately, it is hoped, the master plan should allow the region to come up with an efficient, seamless and cost-effective trans-boundary infrastructure network that would promote socio-economic growth in SADC member states as a thriving economy depends on a reliable infrastructure base at both the national and regional levels.
A vibrant transport network is said to be "needed to boost regional integration" as well as ensure that the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) launched in 2008 and the impending SADC Customs Union are successfully implemented through addressing delays at border posts and promoting the free movement of goods and services across Southern Africa.
The regional infrastructure master plan initiated in 2007 by SADC leaders would focus on key areas such as energy, transport, telecommunications, water infrastructure and tourism, according to SADC officials.
Some of the programmes that the plan would target include the Kazungula Bridge, which would link Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe; the proposed Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana-Namibia power transmission line which links the four respective countries, dubbed ZiZaBoNa; and the Benguela railway line between Angola and Zambia.
Other projects are along development corridors such as the Dar es Salaam Corridor (linking Tanzania and Zambia), Shire-Zambezi Waterway (connecting Malawi), Walvis Bay Corridor and the Trans-Caprivi Corridor (both from Namibia).
SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomão said, with determination, the region would accomplish its plans and provide seamless infrastructure network to its people. He said experience had shown that SADC member states were up to the task despite various challenges such as limited resources.
"Our scorecard represents a mixed bag, that is both achievements and challenges," Mr Salomão said in the foreword to a report on SADC Infrastructure Development Status that was presented at the last SADC summit held in Windhoek, Namibia. "The region has, however, demonstrated over the years that it is always equal to the task as it has always overcome hurdles through collective efforts."
He cited the programme of power generation and transmission through which the region commissioned various projects that have delivered about 5,300 Megawatts (MW) to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) between 2007 and 2009.
Regarding information communication technology, comprehensive inter-state connectivity had already been achieved, he said, including undersea cable connectivity with the rest of the world.
However, a number of other regional infrastructure programmes still lag behind due to various challenges, chief among them lack of funds and will to implement the programmes, according to SADC officials.
The SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan is part of the broader regional infrastructure development agenda for SADC that aims to strengthen infrastructure development in the region.
Southern African leaders are expected to launch the plan at their forthcoming summit scheduled for Luanda, Angola, in August.
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