Briefing Paper

Operationalising the SADC Regional Development fund

Infrastructure development, as an enabler of economic growth and catalyst for poverty alleviation, is an integral part of the economic development agenda of most African countries. New estimates by
the African Development Bank suggest that the continent’s infrastructure needs amount to $130–$170 billion a year, with an annual financing gap of between $67.6 and $107.5 billion. In Southern Africa there has been ongoing discussion about establishing an infrastructure financing mechanism to support the region’s ambitious industrialisation plans. In 2017 SADC decided to operationalise the long-anticipated SADC Regional Development Fund (RDF). This briefing examines the need for and potential role of the SADC RDF in addressing SADC’s infrastructure needs. It considers the focus
placed on infrastructure development in SADC in various global, continental and regional infrastructure plans and initiatives, and analyses the implementation of these plans. The challenges at each stage of the infrastructure pipeline in SADC are explored, drawing on current financing mechanisms.