Southern Africa Regional Development Cooperation Strategy

USAID/Southern Africa is working towards a goal of a more integrated region for an improved quality of life for Southern Africans. 

In Congressional Testimony on the U.S. Policy in sub-Saharan Africa, Assistant Secretary of State, Johnnie Carson, stated that the U.S. Government (USG) has a “fundamental interest in promoting democratic institutions and good governance, peace and stability, and sustained economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa.”1 While in many respects Southern Africa has made significant inroads on these issues, it is a region of contradictions. The USG heralds South Africa as a keystone of economic strength and political stability for the continent, while viewing Zimbabwe as a threat that may become a model for unchecked executive power throughout the region. South Africa also faces challenges of one-party dominance regarding current, pending legislation that could significantly decrease political space and freedom of expression. As a whole, Southern Africa provides significant economic potential to the United States through its trade facilities, but is also the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic with nine of the 10 highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. Given these complexities, countries in Southern Africa cannot take a silo approach to development challenges. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned in her recent remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Few, if any, of today’s challenges can be understood or solved without working through a regional context.

USAID/Southern Africa is working towards a goal of a more integrated region for an improved quality of life for Southern Africans. As a comparative advantage of a regional mission, USAID/Southern Africa is able to provide regional analysis of and a regional approach to development challenges. Work conducted by the Regional Mission strengthens the regional enabling environment, develops the regional capacity through networks and institutions, and builds upon already successful regional programs such as the Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH). USAID/Southern Africa will achieve these goals through partnerships with regional organizations and institutions, some of which are based in South Africa. Regional efforts will complement USAID’s bilateral work with the South African Government in delivering trilateral assistance to countries in SADC and beyond. The trilateral assistance program will continue to be managed as part of USAID’s bilateral partnership with the South African Government as they move towards the establishment of the South African Development Partnership Agency. The regional mission will also strive to work closely with the U.S. State Department and other U.S. Agencies to harmonize regional diplomacy and development goals under the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Furthermore, the USAID/Southern Africa Regional Mission provides holistic, strategic guidance for programs that seek to integrate into the Southern Africa region, both politically and economically, across national boundaries without creating disjointed and redundant interventions. The Regional Mission serves to multiply the individual efforts of bilateral missions by leveraging complementary projects, identifying program and project gaps, and offering technical support to client missions.

Southern Africa has taken steps towards greater regional integration in areas such as economic growth, resource management, and social service provision, but has yet to solidify these gains. Throughout all of USAID/Southern Africa’s development objectives there is a concerted effort to improve regional collaboration, capacity, and economic competitiveness. The Mission’s ultimate goal is to create the conditions where its work is no longer needed. This goal can only be attained if the assistance delivered strengthens the local actors and institutions that are ultimately responsible for transforming the Southern Africa region. As such, the USG, through USAID’s regional strategy and assistance agreements, will commit to strengthening the capacity of Southern African regional organizations. The Mission views regional economic, social, and political integration as key to the lasting success of development efforts in the region, including the work of USAID’s bilateral missions. Being able to move goods across borders, peacefully settle disputes regarding cross-boundary resources, and share best practices from one country to the next will create an environment for sustainable growth.

Last updated: July 11, 2018

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