By Bongiwe Zwane-Maseko
Senior Officials from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) attended a workshop to consider the outcome of the assessment of the implementation and relevance of the SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment considering new demands of industrialisation and deeper regional integration, in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 21st to 22nd November 2022.
The SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment seeks to foster harmonisation of the financial and investment policies of the State Parties to make them consistent with the objectives of SADC and ensure that any changes to financial and investment policies in one State Party do not necessitate undesirable adjustments in other State Parties.
Among others, this outlines SADC policy on investment, requiring Member States to enact strategies to attract investors and facilitate entrepreneurship among their populations. Member States are encouraged to implement legislation that creates a favourable environment for investment, such as tax incentives that ease financial burdens for private firms seeking to invest in the Region.
With the support from the European Union through the Support to Improving the Investment and Business Environment (SIBE) Programme, this work on the Assessment of the Implementation and Relevance of the SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment was launched in June 2021 and preliminary findings were presented to Ministers of Finance and Investment at their meeting held in July 2022 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The workshop deliberated on the presentation made by the consultant concerning the consolidated regional report on the assessment of the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment. The presentation underscored that the evolving context within which the Protocol is being implemented is important for its future orientation; the Protocol itself has undertaken various shifts which have shaped its orientation, and regional structures implementing the Protocol have been highly supportive.
Many recommendations were provided for enhancing the implementation of each Annex. The meeting recommended that the content of the Protocol must be compatible with the current and emerging context within which it will be implemented; the SADC Secretariat should continue to support the various regional structures that have facilitated the implementation of the Protocol; and that the revision of the Protocol should consider whether the amendments and additions to the Protocol since 2011 are implementable within the context of SADC’s existing capacities.
The meeting recommended the need to enhance the effective domestication of regional frameworks, including the harmonisation of MEC targets; and that capacity-building initiatives undertaken at the national levels should take place at an institutional rather than individual level. They also recommended that the MRE functions of the FIP should be strengthened to ensure adequate monitoring and reporting.
The meeting also deliberated on the findings and recommendations of the report on the relevance of the Protocol. This was also seen as a precursor to providing inputs into the roadmap. The report provided overarching conclusions and recommendations and also delved into each annexe of the Protocol.
The key findings of the report included the fact that the Protocol has been useful in driving the objectives sought under each annexe and there is very commendable progress has been observed. However, there are some gaps related to capacity and coordination issues that have been identified. It was recommended that going forward, there is a need to find ways to cover the gaps and undertake capacity building in areas that have been identified as lagging.
Most importantly, the meeting considered and reviewed the proposed detailed Roadmap for deeper financial and investment integration to anchor the future work programme of the Committee of Ministers for Finance and Investment.
The meeting was co-chaired by Mr Kally Kiakwama Kia Kiziki, Advisor to the Minister of Finance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chairperson of the Senior Treasury Officials; and Mr Francis Selialia, Senior Manager of Regional Arrangements, International Economic Relations and Policy Department at the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and Head of the Secretariat of the Committee of Central Bank Governors (CCBG).
The meeting was attended by representatives from Angola, Botswana, DRC, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The meeting was also attended by the Chairpersons of the Investment Subcommittee, Tax Subcommittee, Exchange Control Committee, CCBG Financial Markets Subcommittee, Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non-banking Financial Authorities (CISNA), Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges (CoSSE), a representative from CISNA Secretariat, CEO of SADC DFRC, CEO of FinMark Trust representing the SIBE SADC Support Consortium and the consultants.