Southern Africa's long-awaited regional infrastructure development master plan is now ready for approval by the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit set for Maputo, Mozambique in August.
This follows the finalisation of the master plan by ministers responsible for infrastructure in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), who met in Luanda, Angola in late June.
If endorsed by the southern African leaders, the master plan would guide development in key infrastructure such as road, rail and ports, and would also act as a framework for planning and cooperation with development partners and the private sector.
Speaking at the meeting of SADC ministers responsible for infrastructure, the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for regional integration, João Caholo said the master plan is a product of "deep" stakeholder consultation and, therefore, its success will also depend on collective implementation by all member states.
He said as soon as the plan is approved, the SADC Secretariat would "facilitate and coordinate the convening of a SADC Infrastructure Investment Conference between January and March 2013" to lure potential investors. Road shows are also planned in Asia, Europe and the United States for the same purpose.
The master plan will be implemented over three five-year intervals - short term (2012-2017), medium term (2017-2022) and long term (2022-2027). This is in line with the SADC Vision 2027, a 15-year implementation horizon for forecasting infrastructure requirements in the region.
It is also in line with the African Union's Programme for Infrastructure Development of Africa (PIDA) and will constitute a key input into the proposed tripartite Free Trade Area made up of SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC)
The SADC master plan will guide implementation of coordinated, integrated, efficient, trans-boundary infrastructure networks in the six priority sectors of energy, transport, tourism, information technology, meteorology and water.
In the energy sector, it is anticipated that the plan will address four key areas of energy security, improving access to modern energy services, tapping the abundant energy resources and increasing financial investment whilst enhancing environmental sustainability.
Regarding the sub-sectors of road, rail, ports, inland waterways and air transport networks, the Transport Sector Plan will address four key areas, namely improving access to the seamless transport corridors value chain; reducing the cost of transportation; enhancing competitiveness and providing safe and secure transport services.
The Information Communication Technology (ICT) Sector Plan is designed to address four key areas: ensuring accessibility, including universal access to broadband ICT technologies; accelerating regional integration through broadband interconnectivity within and among SADC member states; reducing the cost of doing business; and improving reliability and security of ICT infrastructure.
The Water Sector Plan prioritises five goals, which include increasing the overall water storage in the region; irrigated land for food security; hydropower generation for energy security; increasing access to safe drinking water; and enhancing sanitation services for SADC citizens.
The Tourism Sector Plan is geared towards achieving enhanced socio-economic development; facilitating joint marketing of SADC as a single destination; increasing tourism arrivals and tourism receipts from source markets; and developing the tourism sector in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Emphasis for the Meteorology Sector Plan is put on the need to ensure the availability of timely early warning information relating to adverse weather and climate variability impacts. Another highlight of the Meteorology Sector Plan will be the development of a framework for harmonized indicators for the provision of relevant climate forecasting information to facilitate preparations of mitigation measures against droughts, floods and cyclones.
The identified priority infrastructure projects will be implemented at a cost of about US$500 billion, with transport, energy and water taking up the major share of the funding requirements.