Southern African Development Community

In 2008, Austria and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mutual co-operation in the area of good governance with a focus on land issues, as well as in the area of infrastructure with a focus on rail transport and renewable energy. The two parties meet regularly to discuss issues of implementation, as foreseen by the Memorandum.

From November 2010 to mid-July 2014 Austria held the co-chairmanship of the Thematic Group on Peace Security together with the Director of the SADC Organ for Politics, Security and Defense Co-operation. The aim of the thematic groups, as foreseen by the so-called Windhoek-Declaration of 2006, is to coordinate the activities of SADC and the International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) in various fields of action.

In light of its multiple engagements in the energy sector in the SADC-region, Austria took over the co-chairmanship of the Energy Thematic Group in 2014, thus becoming the lead-ICP in the energy sector. The most important energy-related activities in cooperation with the SADC Secretariat financed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) are as follows: (1) setting up of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) in Windhoek, Namibia, together with UNIDO, (2) “Communicating Energy in Southern Africa” by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), (3) “Gender Mainstreaming” by the SADC Gender Unit as well as (4) the secondment an Austrian expert to the SADC Energy Unit (June 2014 – November 2016, the secondment of another expert is in its preparatory phase).

In addition, the Austrian Development Agency is also financing regional projects together with partners other than SADC in the Southern African, such as (1) the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP), in the framework of which energy-related projects in the Southern and Eastern African region worth more than € 60 mio. have been financed over the last years together with Finland and DFID, (2) “Making the SADC Region Safer from Drugs and Crime” together with UNODC as well as (3) the poverty eradication programme of the SADC Council of NGOs (SADC-CNGO).

ADA’s SOLTRAIN-Programme (Southern African Solar Thermal Training & Demonstration Initiative) presently supports projects in six countries within the SADC-region: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South-Africa, and Zimbabwe. Up until now, the programme has provided training for over 1800 professionals in over 60 practical courses for the instalment and maintenance of solar-thermal equipment. Furthermore, over 100 solar thermal systems have been affixed to the buildings of social and health establishments, orphanages, nursing homes, student homes, and several industrial buildings. Austria covers up to 50% of the installation costs and of the required control systems. Most recently a SOLTRAIN-conference took place from 23 February to 24 February 2017 in Windhoek.

In October 2015 Cape Town hosted the South African International Renewable Energy Conference. The conference, which was partly financed by the Austrian Development Agency, saw an intense Austrian participation through the organisation of two seminars, both opened by the Austrian Ambassador to South Africa, Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer, as well as two Austrian information stalls by the Austrian Economic Chamber and the Austrian Development Agency itself.

Through this package of measures, Austria, and in particular the Austrian Development Agency, has been able to contribute a number of important building blocks for the development of the renewable energy sector in the Southern African region.