By Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU – In efforts to foster effective coordination and communication among the national structures, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has organized a symposium for learning and exchange of synergies.
The three day symposium that commenced on Monday will end today.
Held in concert with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the symposium is attended by the representative from across the SADC Member States and it seeks to facilitate sharing of best practices and enhance more collaboration and communication that would ultimately contribute to the development of the region.
The participants include members of coordination structures from SADC Member States, non-State actors, and national SADC Media Coordinators.
SADC Director of Industrial Development and Trade, Calicious Tutalife said the symposium will as serve as a much needed platform for knowledge exchange, planning and experience sharing amongst Member States.
The Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, he said it pays premium on importance of enhancing support towards SADC National Committees and National Contact Points to ensure that they are adequately capacitated in order to inform their communication and coordination in the regional integration agenda.
“This symposium therefore reflects our recognition of the importance of these critical elements [communication, coordination and collaboration] for our shared vision within our region,” he said adding that they are handy towards acceleration of SADC integration agenda.
Tutalife said by strengthening the national structures within the Member States can enhance the efficiency of their collective agenda.
SADC Director of Industrial Development and Trade highlighted that the Member States should streamline decision-making processes and ensure that their actions are aligned with their common objectives.
Also speaking at this gathering, the principal secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Nthoateng Lebona underscored that the importance of information sharing cannot be over-emphasised.
Lebona said SADC is not only about the peace and security interventions but also boasts a lot of good socio-economic programmes and projects that the Member States are implementing in their respective countries.
She pointed that out that the citizens are not well conversant with some of these developments.
The PS said traders and other service providers witness the improvements where they see procedures being improved at their border posts for better experience of trading adding that they are not aware that this is a result of the SADC Co-ordinated Border Management Project.
“Citizens and stakeholder engagement on regional policy and program development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well as information dissemination are essential ingredients for a successful regional cooperation and integration agenda. We need to build national and collective capabilities to develop new policies, products, markets … to deepen integration inwardly and with other regional blocs to realise faster and broad based economic development,” she said.
Regional integration and cooperation offers enormous opportunities for enlarging markets, which can be served through cooperation arrangements in different states, there is need to cooperate in building seamless infrastructure and therefore open up opportunities for investment. We have not tapped this big potential, therefore we need to position ourselves well, such that we do not just have national platforms that are just talk shops, but yield results.
A delegate from Madagascar, Narindra Prisca Ben Mohamed said with her country there is still a lot of work to be done adding that they do not have financial resources to enable them to fulfill some of their commitments towards regional integration.
She appealed for constant communication within the region so that all Member States are at par.
From Tanzania, Emmanuel Justin said regional integration hinges on regional development in many aspects including infrastructure, trade, agriculture and development.
He promised to pay forward the things he will have learned from other countries especially those who have established the national committees. He emphasized that the Member States need to own and implement the agreements that they have signed.
Justin added: “We are lagging behind, we are making commitments and we are not making effort to achieve those commitments.”
“The common goal is development, moving a step ahead and benefiting citizens and making sure that they grow financially [and otherwise],” he said.