The Chairperson of SADC, His Majesty King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland has hailed the fruitful discussions and outcomes of the Energy Investment Forum held at Ezulwini, Swaziland on 12-13 July 2017, saying it demonstrates the commitment of stakeholders to sustainable development and economic growth of the SADC region and mankind.
His Majesty King Mswati III commended participants and delegates for advancing bankable energy and water infrastructure projects and for coming up with actions to eliminate barriers to the timely implementation of the infrastructure projects in the Region.
The King said the Energy Investment Forum will assist the SADC region in realising its long-term solutions that support the Region's commitment of transforming into an industrial hub.
He said access to potable water and energy remains a challenge in the SADC region, hence the need to invest in energy and water infrastructure in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, citing SDG 6 on access to safe water, SDG 7 on energy and SDG 9 on infrastructure development for industrialisation.
"Reliable energy supply and availability of clean water are central to economic growth, industrialisation and well-being of the people," said the SADC Chairperson.
The King said it was disturbing to note that of the 292 million SADC citizens, about 192 million live without electricity and only 60 percent have access to safe drinking water with only 40 percent having access to adequate sanitation facilities.
He called for timely implementation of the identified energy and water projects in order to facilitate industrialisation and development of other sectors of the economy, and ultimately, the enhancement of people's livelihoods.
His Majesty King Mswati III appealed to development partners to support the priority projects on energy and water infrastructure presented at the Forum, saying the support of development Partners will go a long way in the realisation of SADC Goal of access to electricity and water services for all by 2027.
The Executive Secretary of SADC Her Excellency, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax thanked the Chairperson of SADC, His Majesty King Mswati III, for his vision and leadership in proposing the theme for the 36th SADC Summit "Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation and for the Prosperity of the Region".
Dr Tax said limited access to electricity in the SADC region presents serious negative implications for productivity and the aspirations of the region to industrialise, saying lack of electricity as a driver of industrialisation negatively affects productive labour, skills and education.
"Most children learn in the dark and have reduced hours to study; on health especially for women and children as life-saving vaccines cannot be preserved and birth attendants deliver infants in the dark increasing the risk of complications," said Dr Tax,
Dr Tax added; "In the 21st Century, women are still cooking with fuel wood and charcoal, spending many hours collecting wood and other biomass, thus denying them the valuable time for other productive activities. This happens when Africa and indeed the SADC Region has abundant supply of solar, hydropower, wind and geothermal potential, as well as significant amounts of natural gas and in some countries, coal deposits."
The Energy Investment Forum was attended by project developers, SADC Member States Governments, Development Finance Institutions, International Cooperating Partners, Private Sector and other stakeholders.