SADC has several quality infrastructure development projects and programmes being implemented at regional and Member State levels by various implementing agencies.
There has however never been a meeting to take stock of these projects and identify areas of overlap or gaps. In collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), SADC Secretariat hosted a workshop of representatives of the international development partners (IDPs) and beneficiary countries of quality infrastructure development projects within the region at the Gaborone Sun Hotel, Gaborone, Botswana from 28 – 29 April 2015.
The objectives of the workshop were:
- To obtain an overview of current Standardization, Quality assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SQAM) projects/programmes in the SADC region;
- To present lessons learnt from recent SQAM technical cooperation activities in SADC at the national and regional levels;
- To discuss practical issues related to the implementation of the ongoing projects, with a special focus on those issues which are common to most of the participating countries and/or have a regional component; and
- To identify and strengthen cooperation between UNIDO, SADC and other implementing partners (PTB, EU, USAID, ACP), to provide Member States in the SADC region with an inclusive and sustainable infrastructure to support industrial development.
Representatives from the IDPs, UNIDO, Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH) and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) participated in the workshop.
The beneficiary SADC Member States represented were Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. Participants shared experiences on the implementation of the various projects/programmes in the Member States including regional programmes such as the Regional Economic Integration Support (REIS) programme.
In addition to sharing on the technical contents of the various projects/programmes, focus was also on challenges being faced, lessons learnt and future outlook. Challenges including delays in implementation of activities, shortage of resources and time constraints were found to be common to many of the projects.
In some cases duplication was identified as for example, two Member States are planning to establish their own national accreditation body even though a multi-economy regional accreditation service is available.
The need for sustainability and continuation of programmes post-donor engagement as well as ownership of programmes by beneficiaries were strongly emphasized.
Participants agreed that such information and experience sharing forums were beneficial and should be held periodically if possible.