The role of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in regional economic integration in the Southern African development community

Hlongwa, Linda X.H.
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The regional economic integration is a positive process at work in the world economy, as it acts as an effective vehicle for trade and economic and financial globalization, thereby fostering growth. Regional economic integration is also a reflection of the diversity of economies and their histories, and it is notable that the process follows markedly different patterns across the world. Africa like all other continents, has developed a rational response to the difficulties faced by a continent with many small national markets, challenges of geopolitics and landlocked countries to address these shortcomings. African governments have over the years developed strategies, and from that concluded a very large number of regional integration arrangements, to drive this idea. The Development Finance Institutions (DFI’s) play, a positive and significant role in fostering economic growth and with the impact being stronger in low to medium income countries than in higher income countries. Financial investment has a huge role in the economic growth and in turn economic development. In their nature, DFI’s have an additional role, that of, bridging the gap that arise, as a result of commercial banks not able to finance infrastructural needs (soft and hard), creativity and innovations, that will lead to meaningful regional economic integration. However, it is not clear whether the regional DFI’s are having any specified, significant role in the regional economic integration agenda, hence this research. The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness roles of the DBSA, in the regional economic integration, in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This study approach, focuses on three (3) main questions which are aimed at determining the effectiveness of the DBSA’s roles in the regional economic integration. The secondary questions are a supporting instrument to the initial question and the questions are meant to find out about factors hindering the effectiveness of the supporting roles of DBSA in the SADC’s regional economic integration. In endeavoring to determine the structural challenges faced by the DBSA, in the SADC region, the investigations explored the interventions and or measures that would improve the bank’s supporting roles, especially because of its developmental importance in the region. To carry out this exploratory study, the investigation followed a qualitative research approach, as a framework and structured face to face interviews and document analysis were also used. Almost all respondents sighted that the major roles of the DBSA in the regional economic integration in SADC to often be associated with resource mobilization and financing of regional infrastructures in SADC, identification of areas for cooperation to facilitate the economic development of SADC and influencing policy development through research and information exchange and sharing. Most of the interviewees, emphasized that the DBSA, has done extremely well in providing both technical and financial support to the SADC in their endeavor to facilitate for the regional economic integration. Simultaneously, most interviewees agreed again, that the, hindrances and or limiting factors to the effectiveness of the supporting roles of DBSA in the SADC’s regional economic integration, have been the inhibiting inherent heterogeneity of SADC countries, inability of the SADC to hold member states accountable and responsible, lack of political will to implement the integration, legal factors, and significant reliance on grants and foreign funding. The results shows that DBSA has been found to be very technically able to deal with support in the regional economic integration. This result suggest that the SADC leadership should consider revising the roles, and the funding model of the DFI’s for the benefit of the regional economic integration agenda.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in part fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Management in Public and Development Management, 2018
Hlongwa, Linda Xolelwa Hlobisile, (2018) The role of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in regional economic integration in the Southern African development community, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,