SADC Secretariat Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo launched the SADC Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Thematic Group on 18th March 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana.
In his remarks during the launch which was attended by International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) and SADC ICT implementing agencies, Dr. Mhlongo commended the establishment of the group and emphasised the key role that ICTs play in facilitating development and transformation.
Dr Mhlongo noted that while some progress was made in the ICT sector, due to limited resources, the SADC region was yet to create an effective and enabling ICT regulatory environment, and facilitate affordable access to ICT infrastructure.
The newly launched ICT Thematic Group acknowledged that ICTs have a major role to play in SADC’s drive towards industrialization and called for coordinated partnerships and enhanced support to speed the development of infrastructures for ICTs in the region.
The SADC ICT Thematic Group will among others, facilitate resource mobilisation, planning and monitoring of the implementation of the SADC’s ICT initiatives, programmes and projects. The ICT Thematic Group will also act as a platform for dialogue as well as the interface between SADC and ICPs with the main purpose of improving the coordination of all stakeholders in the ICT Sector in the SADC region.
The SADC ICT thematic group is the sixth thematic group established to date. Other Thematic Groups are in the areas of Agriculture and Food Security; Energy; HIV and AIDS; Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment; Transport; and Water.
Thematic Groups are established to realign the SADC Regional Integration and Industrialisation Agenda with the development agendas of the ICPs and thus improve efficiency and effectiveness of the implementation of the SADC policies and programme.
During the launch, the stakeholders reviewed the various priority programmes in the thematic area of ICT, among them, ICT infrastructure development; science, technology and innovation related activities; regulatory harmonisation and strengthening; support to research institutions and other non-state actors.
The ICT Thematic Group resolved to identify funding gaps for priority projects, with the view to identifying funding requirements from partners.