The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has made significant progress in advancing regional cooperation and integration since its establishment in 1980. With a population of 350 million in 16 Member States,
SADC has evolved from being a coordinating conference into an active regional development community, making it a key building block of African unity through the African Union (AU). In pursuit of the regional integration agenda, since 1992, SADC Member States have signed 33 protocols and a number of declarations, charters, and memoranda of understanding on various matters, ranging from trade, mining, and finance and investment to illicit drugs, forestry, and shared watercourses, as well as the empowerment of women and young people. Of the 33 protocols, 25 have entered into force after having been ratified by two-thirds of the signatory Member States. Undoubtedly, these commitments and other initiatives have made a positive contribution towards improving the lives of SADC citizens.
The journey towards the attainment of SADC’s Vision, Mission, and Common Agenda has demanded periodic reviews of regional strategic plans, including the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation (SIPO). The RISDP serves as a comprehensive development and implementation framework that has guided the integration agenda of SADC since 2005. The decision to develop the RISDP was taken by the SADC Extraordinary Summit, held in March 2001, in Windhoek, Namibia. The original 15-year strategic plan was approved by the Summit in 2003 and was launched in March 2004 in Arusha, Tanzania. The revised RISDP 2015–2020 was approved by the SADC Extraordinary Summit, held in April 2015, in Harare, Zimbabwe.
SIPO, meanwhile, has guided cooperation in the areas of politics, defence, and security in the region. This plan was also approved by the 2003 Summit, held in Tanzania, as an enabling instrument for the implementation of other regional policies, including the Protocol on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation as well as the RISDP and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (SISR). The objective of SIPO is to create a peaceful and stable political and security environment through which the region can realise its objectives of socio-economic development, poverty eradication, and regional integration. It was revised in 2012, to address several new challenges facing the region, including piracy, climate change, human trafficking, and illegal immigration. These development frameworks have been pivotal in guiding implementation of the integration agenda and the realisation of the Community’s objectives as enshrined in the SADC Treaty.
The formulation of RISDP 2020–2030 is the culmination of a long and intensive process that began in June 2012, following a decision by Member States to develop SADC Vision 2050. Subsequent meetings resulted in an extensive consultative process and decisions to combine the process of formulating SADC Vision 2050 with a review of the RISDP and SIPO. The Council of Ministers further directed the Secretariat, in August 2018, to align SADC Vision 2050 to the AU’s Agenda 2063 and resolved that the strategic plan for 2020–2030 should be termed RISDP 2020–2030.
RISDP 2020–2030 is a 10-year strategic plan. It represents an ambitious attempt to lay out how SADC can best move towards SADC Vision 2050 over the next 10 years. This Vision for 2050 is grounded in SADC’s original Vision of “a common future, a future in a regional community that will ensure economic wellbeing, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice and peace and security for the peoples of Southern Africa”.
SADC Mission 2050, which is derived from the organisation’s Mission Statement, plays the important role of connecting RISDP 2020–2030 to SADC Vision 2050, serving as a bridge between the detailed strategy that is RISDP 2020– 2030 and the aspirational document that is SADC Vision 2050. It does so by resolving to “consolidate SADC moving towards 2050 by leveraging areas of excellence and implementing priorities to achieve sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, through good governance and durable peace and security in the region, as well as the removal of all barriers to deeper integration; and guided by the purposes and principles of the SADC Treaty and Agenda”.
The formulation of RISDP 2020–2030 was further guided by lessons learnt from RISDP 2015–2020, as well as an updated SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis (see Annex 1). In particular, the strategic priorities that underpin the RISDP were developed with a clear understanding of the strong position that Member States are in to take advantage of existing strengths and opportunities; and of the steps and interventions that the region will need to take to mitigate and, where possible, eliminate weaknesses and threats, during implementation of RISDP 2020–2030 and the SADC Common Agenda.