AfDB Approves Regional Integration Strategy for Southern Africa

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Tunis, 6 April 2011 – The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB)  today approved the 2011-2012 Regional Integration Strategy Paper for Southern Africa. Regional integration is one of the organisation’s priorities, , as reflected in its 2008-2011 Medium-Term Strategy, its Strategic and Operational Framework for Regional Operations and the its 2009-2012 Regional Integration Strategy.

The Board’s approval of the 2011-2012 Regional Integration Strategy Paper underscores the institution’s commitment to Africa economic integration, and it provides further impetus to its engagement with the sub-region.

The Bank’s Southern Africa regional integration agenda aims at a fully integrated and internationally competitive region with the overarching objective of poverty reduction. In support of such goal, the RISP is strategically focused on the two pillars specified in the Bank’s Regional Integration Strategy, namely, regional infrastructure and capacity building, which includes regional public goods, macroeconomic convergence, and knowledge management and networking.

The development of regional corridors is the overarching approach of the Southern Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper in sustaining economic growth and social development through intra-regional trade, greater legal, institutional and regulatory harmonization and lower production cost structures.

On regional infrastructure, the AfDB is focusing on transport (roads and railways), power generation (hydroelectricity and renewable sources of energy) and information communication technology (ICT), with emphasis on the corridor approach.

In addition, the AfDB will take lead in promoting environmentally sustainable and climate friendly infrastructure programmes in order to reduce carbon emissions. For example, the Bank will support the development of railway lines, which produce less carbon emissions and have a comparative advantage in handling bulky and long-haul transportation in prominent extractive industries in the Southern Africa. Hydropower generation will also be supported, as it is clean and has a huge potential in the region at a competitive cost.

In capacity building, the Bank will focus on strengthening capacity at legal, regulatory and institutional levels for the successful implementation of selected infrastructure programmes. More specifically, it will lay emphasis on training, in the design, sequencing, preparation, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of corridor infrastructure programmes.

Under the AfDB’s regional classification, the Southern Africa region covers 12 countries, namely: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. For most of the last decade, Southern Africa recorded rising real growth rates, falling inflation, improved fiscal balance, favourable terms of trade, declining debt, and a low current account deficit. The recent global economic recession has taken a toll on the regional economy, and there has been a sharp drop in external demand and prices of mineral resources. Despite this, the region is now experiencing a gradual recovery, due to a rebound in export demand and rising commodity prices.