n Journal of Law, Society and Development - Political and economic integration in the SADC : reforming the energy sector regulatory system




The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and other African regional economic communities (RECs) have as their ultimate objective the political and economic integration of the African continent. The SADC is home to a number of countries, all of them striving to improve their investment climate to attract foreign investors by reducing the costs of doing business in the region. One way of achieving this is by setting targets for and speeding up political and economic integration, improving interconnectivity and thereby enlarging the market size and enhancing its attractiveness. The SADC region still suffers from high levels of energy poverty through low access levels in all countries except South Africa and Mauritius. Numerous studies have shown that greater regional trading and cooperation on power development within the SADC could substantially reduce investment and operational costs as well as carbon emissions. The need for a regional power trading pool and regional cooperation grew out of the power utilities' recognition of the vulnerability of individual countries if each continued to pursue a policy of self-sufficiency rather than out of a desire to minimise the social or financial costs of the region's power. The power sector in southern Africa is undergoing tremendous reforms, more especially since the establishment of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) in August 1995. The SADC, however, faces serious challenges that include diminishing surplus generation capacity and the need to ensure that SADC citizens have equitable access to electricity at affordable prices. To meet these challenges, treaties and protocols have been adopted but are failing to deliver at the implementation stage. This article reviews the SADC energy-electricity regulatory framework in the context of economic and political integration and recommends the establishment of an independent regional regulatory authority to oversee the implementation of integrated holistic energy and air pollution control and prevention, and a common climate change policy. Such a regulator would be a highly resourced regional institution that will liaise with international institutions. This independent regional authority will serve as a catalyst for regional economic integration. It will also have a mandate to introduce and coordinate the establishment of an SADC regional emissions trading scheme that will contribute to managing the mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the implementation of global warming adaptation strategies in the region.


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