The Southern African Development Community (SADC) envisions to create a region with an industrial complex driven economy, but also a excel in utilizing the telecommunication potential for a unique African development success story.
The SADC region which hosts more than 345 million people, took its 2019 high-end summit and meetings to Tanzania—one of the populous, fast-growing economy and trader, member state in the region.
Member states conversed on industrializing Africa on inclusive fast-growing sustainable grounds while, including intra-regional trade, but also ICT, information, transport, and meteorology.
In this context, the ICT, information, transport and meteorology member states meeting brought forth , rather essential aspects, that might stimulate the region’s economic strategies.
The meeting was hosted by the government of the United Republic of Tanzania and was attended by ministers (or their representatives) from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Moreover, the meeting was also attended by representatives from SADC partners and implementing agencies from the four sectors, and was preceded by meetings of Senior Officials from the ICT, Public Information, Transport and Meteorology sectors, and a SADC High-Level Ministerial Round Table Dialogue on Innovative and Emerging High Capacity Broadband Access Technologies
In the 21st century, telecommunication is crucial for any form of development, as technological aspects get integrated into modern economical strategies, so as its mastery presents something valuable to master, especially for SADC member states.
The entire convergence was driven by an intriguing theme: emerging technologies to support SADC regional integration and sustainable industrial development.
Key issues of the meeting
The meeting was witnessed by host-member state Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, who highlighted on Tanzania’s commitment to corporate and share experiences with the other Member States in the region to make SADC an eminent body that plays an important role in enhancing social-economic development of the citizens of all Member States.
Available data indicate that: SADC registered an estimated average growth rate of 1.8 per cent in 2018 compared to 2.1 per cent in 2017. However, the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the region stood at 11.9 per cent n 2018 against 11.2 per cent in 2017.
The region has been strategizing for a complete economic turnaround, stimulated by industrial revolution, whereas Tanzania, in particular, has been waving the industrialization flag since President John Magufuli took leadership in 2015.
In that context, Tanzania’ Minister of Works, Transport and Communication and Chairperson of the SADC Committee of Ministers for ICT, Information, Transport, and Meteorology, Eng. Isack Kamwelwe expressed his take on how member states ought to take a critical role to ensure that goals set by the regional body in developing infrastructure programmes were reached and challenges faced by the four sectors of ICT, Information and Meteorology.
On the other hand, SADC Secretariat Director of Infrastructure Ms. Mapolao Mokoena delivered an overview of the Secretariat’s implementation of programmes in the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 to bridge the identified gaps.
According to the latter, the plan will eventually lead to unlocking the regional potentials in the areas of ICT, Information, Transport, and Meteorology. Translated continuously via an inclusive embracement of innovative and emerging technologies.
However, SADC-chief insisted governments work more effectively and establish collaborations with the industries and the private sector to accelerate infrastructure development and regional integration.
In the ICT and Information Sectors, a multi-stakeholder intraregional and trade facilitation project was agreed, to promote and facilitate the participation of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the regional e-commerce ecosystem.
Further, it was urged for member states to provide access to their national public Television Channel via the Internet and mobile app to enhance information dissemination.
Consideration of ratifying the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection was yet another crucial denominator urged, which will set out obligations for businesses and organizations that collect, process and store individuals’ data.
Frameworks and guidelines agreed
Member states agreed upon SADC Mobile Broadband Gap Analysis guidelines. The guidelines were on: framework for setting up the SADC regional computer incident response team (CIRT), framework for SADC shared satellite programme, competition assessment framework for communications sector in SADC, SADC universal postal service and access regulatory guidelines, SADC postal e-commerce and trade facilitation guidelines, SADC regional e-commerce hub framework, action plan 2019 on SADC women and youth empowerment in ICT.
At the end of the day, the region requires a robust strategy that can facilitate effective use of modern disruptive telecom technologies, that can harness ripe-markets open in SADC and levitate local economies.