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At the 147th IPU Assembly, held in Luanda, Angola, in October 2023, the IPU and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) marking the transfer of the coordination of the CIP’s Southern Africa Regional Hub from the National Assembly of Zambia to the SADC PF Secretariat. 

The Southern Africa Regional Hub was established in December 2018 at the IPU’s World e-Parliament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, and was initially hosted by the National Assembly of Zambia. Since then, it has supported networking among parliaments in Southern Africa on innovation and digital transformation.

During the challenging times of COVID-19, the hub helped parliaments in the region to remain operational though the exchange of experience on hybrid solutions that were being trialled in various parliaments. It was through the hub that parliamentary IT directors were able to accelerate their learning about these solutions and apply them to great effect in their parliaments, with legislatures in countries such as Angola, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia becoming early adopters of remote-working arrangements.

The hub has also organized a series of meetings on innovation, produced quick-reference guides, and continuously supported research work, including the preparation of the World e-Parliament Report series and the IPU-ASGP Guide to digital transformation in parliaments.

New horizons and new audiences

According to Ms. Boemo Segkoma, Secretary General of the SADC PF, the hub “provides timely opportunities to reach not just IT directors but also the leadership of parliaments including clerks and secretaries general, and to increase awareness of, and buy-in for, good digital transformation practices. Leadership buy-in and engagement are more critical than ever, especially with the rise of new technologies such as AI.” Ms. Segkoma added that the hub would “provide the much-needed leadership to accelerate digital transformation and technical capacity-building within the framework of the IPU’s CIP initiative”.

The SADC PF has set up a technical working group to formulate the hub’s strategy, including through participatory meetings with hub member parliaments in early 2024. As part of its objectives for 2024, the hub aims to contribute to the Transforming Parliaments webinar series by hosting sessions that will complement those co-organized by the ICT Governance and PDS hubs.