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Maseru, 17 August 2006 – President Donald Kaberuka is among dignitaries attending the summit of the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) which opened in Maseru, Lesotho, on Thursday.
In his speech, Mr. Kaberuka congratulated the SADC in its 26th Summit and outlined the role of AfDB Group in supporting development in the region.
He explained that the AfDB has committed over 6 billion maloti, equivalent to US$I billion, to the SADC region for the development of roads, telecommunications and energy facilities in the region.
He added that the Bank Group was looking forward to increasing resources flow to boost infrastructure development within the community.
Mr. Kaberuka also emphasized the role of the private sector as a partner in development and indicated that to increase its visibility, presence and service delivery in the region, the Bank Group had opened a country office in Tanzania and Madagascar and a regional office in Mozambique, which will cover other SADC countries.
The ADB and its partners will assist the SADC region in every way possible, Mr. Kaberuka emphasized.
Earlier in a speech formally opening the summit, King Letsie III of Lesotho commended the milestones attained by the SADC, and called for conscientious efforts to be made to guarantee the realization of its dreams.
King Letsie singled out the end to the conflicts in Mozambique, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the latter having recently gone through credible elections, as some of the positive developments in the Community.
He attributed the achievements to the commitment of the SADC member states to the Windhoek Declaration which charted the way forward for the community, by shifting its focus towards regional integration and putting the people at the centre of its activities.
He noted that while peace and stability were important pillars of development, little would be achieved as long as the region’s population continue to live in abject poverty.
He called on the leaders to make efforts to ensure that the organization has a tangible impact on the lives of the people by improving their standard of living by eliminating obstacles such as HIV/AIDS which threatens their survival.
The King pledged over M600,000 to the SADC AIDS Fund, and called on other member states to follow suit.
The two-day Summit is being attended by regional Heads of State and Governments.
Among the key issues on the agenda are the readmission of Seychelles to SADC and several targets set out in the Regional Integrated Strategic Plan.
The Heads of State and Government will sign protocols on Finance and Investment, review a revised Protocol on Trade and on Education and Training.
Meanwhile, the outgoing Chairperson of the SADC, President Festus Mogae of Botswana has handed over to the incoming chairperson, the Prime Minister of Lesotho, Mr. Pakalitha Mosisili.
The Community currently has 14 member states with a population of over 230 million. The member countries include: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.