Austria’s support to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) focuses on strengthening the rule of law and promoting renewable energies. The promotion of human rights and good governance as well as access to affordable and sustainable energy are essential for sustainable social and economic development in Southern Africa and key elements of the Austrian development policy.

Rule of law and human rights
A vibrant civil society and well-functioning parliaments are essential pillars of democracies. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) therefore supports the SADC Parliamentary Forum, composed of Member States’ members of parliament, in developing policies and model laws for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. Resolving land issues and associated access to resources is indispensable for future democratization processes in the region. ADA therefore promotes independent research led by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape to facilitate appropriate and sustainable land use. A key aspect of this research project is the analysis of legal and social barriers to women’s access to land and to identify strategies to overcome them.

Preventing violence against women and children poses a challenge for all SADC member states. Austria’s support for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) aims at training representatives of the justice sector as well as the police at regional level to identify and appropriately respond to the specific needs of survivors of gender-based violence, and to assist them in accessing justice.

Renewable energy
In collaboration with the Nordic Development Fund and Finland, Austrian Development Cooperation contributes to the Energy and Environment Partnership Trust Fund (EEP Africa), which provides early stage grant and catalytic financing to innovative clean energy projects, technologies and business models in 15 countries across Southern and East Africa. The Fund enhances clean energy access, development and investment across the region, with a focus on poor, vulnerable and underserved groups.

Through the successful SOLTRAIN project, ADA promotes the development of solar energy use and related know-how in 6 countries in Southern Africa. Since the beginning of the project in 2009, it has been implemented by the Austrian AEE Institute for Sustainable Technology together with local partner organizations. Until 2019, more than 140 solar thermal demonstration plants have been set up with a total collector surface of about 2.600 m2. About 684 tons of Co2 emissions were avoided while energy savings amounted to approximately 2,177 megawatt hours.

To provide better access to data and research on renewable energy, ADA supports the Southern African Research and Development Centre (SARDC) in aggregating and disseminating relevant information and publications. For example, ADA funded studies on gender equality in access to and use of renewable energies. Austria also helped establish the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), which was opened in October 2018 and will help Southern African states develop their own capacities in renewable energies, carry out demonstration projects and foster awareness of the advantages of sustainable energy supply.