By Sharon Kavhu
Windhoek – The SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology is key in promoting the region’s economic and social development, said the Namibian Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Sankwasa James Sankwasa.
Sankwasa said the Protocol, which was adopted in 1996, is responsible for ensuring the effective transport, communication and meteorology systems, which are a prerequisite for economic growth and improved quality of life in line with the SADC primary goals.
“The Protocol oversees all aspects of transport, communications, and meteorology throughout Southern Africa with the intention of establishing systems for these sectors that function efficiently and productively, thereby promoting economic and social development.
“Through the Protocol, we agreed as member states to strategies, goals and policies for an integrated network of transport, communications and meteorology, with specific funding sources, regulatory mechanisms, environmental controls and technical standards,” Sankwasa said during the opening of the regional meeting on meteorology and transport.
He said the Protocol outlines an institutional framework for its implementation, including a breakdown of committees and subcommittees, procedures and duties as well as systems for monitoring progress and addressing non-compliance with regulations.
The primary goals of the SADC member states are to achieve socio-economic development, peace and security, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of the Southern Africa region and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration built on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development goals. Sankwasa urged SADC Member States to work together in achieving their goals highlighting that working in harmony is a major positive step towards achieving effective results on common problems and issues affecting the region.
“In order to enable this kind relationship, several legal and institutional instruments have been put into place to guide and standardise the work of SADC within the member states. One of these instruments is the SADC protocols, which enshrine the aims of the community by proving codes of procedure and practise on the various issues as agreed to by member states,” he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister has expressed concern over the inadequate ICT networks in the Southern African region’s rural areas saying that the challenge is hindering development economically and socially.
“We must remain cognisance of the fact that the achievement of ICT networks in our rural areas will remain a challenge due to non-availability of effective rural electrification programmes.
“Rural based schools and other government institutions that may require the use of ICT facilities are in most cases cut off from such necessary facility due to the non-availability or absence of electric power. This hampers effective use of online libraries for students and the much needed good health care delivery,” said Sankwasa.
Currently, SADC had 26 protocols including those that have not yet entered into force. However, the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology was adapted in 1996 in force. Last year the SADC Senior Officials responsible for meteorology and transport was held in Lilongwe, Malawi on November 3.