African Development Bank Group country officers and representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat held a series of discussions last month on deepening regional integration in the all 16 countries, thanks to increased cooperation.
The discussions took place at a meeting held on October 24 in Gaborone, Botswana. The engagement is also expected to lay the foundation for better performance of the Bank’s regional and multinational operations portfolio, as well as improved business development and implementation of SADC regional projects.
Country Managers presented the objectives and key areas of focus for the Country Strategy Papers, as well as highlights of the transformation projects. SADC representatives discussed priority regional projects and opportunities for collaboration with the Bank. The discussion also highlighted how the Bank can help SADC member countries mobilize resources for regional projects using various Bank financing instruments.
The Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Office, Leila Mokaddem, led the delegation of officials from 15 SADC countries. They met with a team from the SADC Secretariat led by the Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr. Thembi Nkosi Mhlongo. On 26 October 2022, country officials also attended an extraordinary meeting of the SADC Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment, to discuss recommendations on how to operationalize the SADC Regional Development Fund of $13 billion.
African Development Bank Managing Director for Southern Africa, Leila Mokaddem, and SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr. Thembi Nkosi Mhlongo
The Extraordinary and Country Directors Meetings were held within the framework of recommendations made by SADC Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, as well as a recent meeting between the Senior Vice President of the Bank and the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary, held in July 2022. .
In his remarks, Mokaddem reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to supporting the efforts of SADC countries to address economic development challenges at regional and national levels. She also reiterated the importance of strengthening national-regional links in engagement and programming. She said the meetings would help strengthen dialogue between country managers and respective ministries, including better alignment of priorities at country and regional levels.
Dr Mhlongo noted that engagement with the regional office of the African Development Bank has improved and as a result the portfolio of SADC Secretariat projects funded by the Bank has expanded. He also stressed that countries in the region need to focus more on regional value chains than on national chains. He also called for in-depth political dialogue on these issues and for enhanced coordination and collaboration with the Bank.
The meeting concluded with an agreement to institutionalize bi-annual engagement meetings between SADC and the African Development Bank.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a regional economic community made up of 16 member states: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.