SADC aims to promote cooperation in southern Africa and pursues issues of creating a common market for the member states, regional security, care initiatives for HIV-infected people, better infrastructure, the environment, etc.


Standing for Southern African Development Community according to Abbreviationfinder, SADC will promote economic integration in the region. The ultimate goal is a single common market for the member states.

The organization has 14 members: Angola, Botswana, Congo-Kinshasa, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, Madagascar was excluded after a coup in March 2009.

In 2003, the member countries had a total population of about 209 million, of which just over 45 million were South Africans. Of the SADC countries’ total GDP, South Africa accounted for about 70 percent.

A former association, SADCC, was formed in 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia, with the aim of coordinating development plans in southern Africa and reducing the region’s dependence on South Africa. When South Africa abandoned apartheid and embarked on a transition to democracy, the SADCC was replaced by the SADC, whose main task was to work for economic integration.

The emergence

SADCC (Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference) emerged from the political cooperation established in the late 1970’s between the five so-called front states (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia) to support the liberation movements in the future Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).

The first SADCC meeting in Arusha, Tanzania in 1979 was attended not only by delegations from the region’s free states but also by representatives from donor countries and international aid agencies. With Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, the conditions for regional economic cooperation improved. At that time, SADC’s goals and working methods were established in the Lusaka Declaration. The four main goals were:

  • to reduce the economic dependence – in particular but not only – on South Africa
  • to establish links between the countries that would lead to equal regional integration
  • to mobilize resources to implement national, intergovernmental and regional plans and projects
  • to jointly secure assistance within the framework of the organization’s strategy for financial liberation

A strategic action program, “Southern Africa towards economic liberation”, was adopted at the same time.

In 1985, however, it was noted that dependence on South Africa had increased. Nevertheless, the SADCC did not hesitate to recommend in 1986 that economic sanctions be imposed on South Africa. However, they failed to set a date for this.

At the organization’s twelfth summit in the Namibian capital Windhoek in 1992, the leaders of SADCC’s ten member states decided to turn the organization into SADC (Southern African Development Community). South Africa had then abandoned the apartheid system. A new charter was drawn up.

In Windhoek and at the following summit in 1993, the guidelines were drawn up to create a common economic market. The idea was that SADC would form the southern part of an economic union planned within the OAU for the whole of Africa. Several African leaders believed that a democratic South Africa should be included in SADC’s common market.

At the 1994 summit in August in Botswana’s capital Gaborone, South Africa was welcomed as SADC’s eleventh member, after holding democratic elections in the spring. Subsequently, the organization has adopted three new members: Mauritius (1995), Congo-Kinshasa and the Seychelles (1997). However, the Seychelles left SADC in July 2004. Several other countries have expressed interest in joining, including Madagascar, which was expected to join the organization in 2005.

In 1996, a Body for Politics, Defense and Security was created , whose task is to coordinate the countries’ national policies and activities in these areas. There was long disagreement as to whether or not the body would be an integral part of SADC. South Africa advocated integration, while Zimbabwe recommended a more independent role. A review was made and the proposal presented in 2000 went along the lines of South Africa. The body would be subordinated to SADC, a head of state or government from one of the member states would become chairman and he would be supported by a leadership troika. The proposal was adopted and entered into force in March 2004.

Due to an economic crisis, the Seychelles left SADC in 2003, but rejoined ten years later. Madagascar joined in 2005, but was expelled after a 2009 coup.

Infrastructure and service

Transport and communications are described in the Lusaka Declaration as the key to the organization’s strategy and to success in other areas. It was also in this area that the first committee was formed in Mozambique. In the first place, the road and rail network in Mozambique would be improved so that the coastless countries of southern Africa could transport their goods via Mozambican ports instead of South African ones. The improvements in infrastructure made it possible to reach the areas in the region that had been hit by a severe drought in 1992–1993 with emergency aid.

Transport and communications are still a high-priority area for which the Directorate for Infrastructure and Services is responsible. In the transport area, there are also projects related to aviation with improvements to the countries’ airports. In 2001, SADC decided to invest in information and communication technology to make southern Africa an “information-based economy”. The Directorate for Infrastructure and Services also works with issues relating to energy, meteorology, tourism and water.