By Staff Reporter
Namibia will, as from tomorrow, host the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Integrated Committee of Ministers (ICM) meeting.
The ICM is a SADC organ that is responsible for policy direction, planning and implementation of SADC programmes, as well as reviewing progress made on regional projects.
During this meeting that ends on Friday, the ICM will receive reports on the Regional Energy Planning Network (REPN), Rural Energy Planning and Environmental Management Project (REPEM), Programme on Biomass Energy Conservation Project (ProBec), Diminishing Generation Surplus in the SADC Region and Building for the Regional Energy Association.
Under tourism, the cluster will focus on UNIVISA Development, South Africa 2010 World Cup Strategy and the review of the refocusing of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA).
Other issues to be deliberated upon include the food security situation in the region, transport, communication and meteorology, water and achievements, as well as challenges and priorities for 2008/2009.
On trade and industry, finance and investment, the ICM will consider progress on the priorities approved for 2008/2009, achievements and challenges.
An overview of programme implementation in areas of enhancing financial and capital markets development, trade, productive competitiveness and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations will also be discussed.
On the social and human development front, the ICM will further look at the continued progress in programme implementation that concentrates on education, health and pharmaceuticals, local government and labour, culture, sports, information and HIV/AIDS.
The reports of various ministerial meetings on health, employment and labour will also be presented.
The ICM is the technical arm of the SADC Council of Ministers, to which it reports and is accountable. It provides regular progress reports to the SADC Council on the implementation of SADC programmes. The Council gives the final approval to any major change of a policy and its strategic nature.
However, the ICM also has decision-making powers to ensure rapid implementation of programmes that would otherwise wait for a formal meeting of the Council. The ICM meets at least once a year and decisions are taken by consensus.
The ICM also monitors and controls the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) in its area of competence by giving policy guidance to the SADC Secretariat. The RISDP is a 15-year regional integration development framework, setting the priorities, policies and strategies for achieving the long-term goals of SADC. The RISDP is intended to guide member states, SADC institutions, regional stakeholders and international cooperating partners in the process of deepening integration to turn the SADC’s vision into reality. It is designed to address the challenges and opportunities facing the cooperation and integration prospects of SADC.
The ICM receives regular reports from the SADC Secretariat and makes recommendations to Council on major changes relating to policy direction.
The ICM is responsible for overseeing the activities of the core areas (clusters) of regional economic integration which include trade and industry, finance and investment, infrastructure and services, food, agriculture and natural resources, and social and human development and special programmes.
The SADC Member States remain Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.