The new Irish Ambassador to Zambia H.E. Seamus O’grady has been accredited to COMESA as his country’s Special Representative to the regional block. This was after presenting his letters of credence to the Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya on Tuesday 18th September 2017.

Ambassador O’Grady said his country viewed COMESA as committed to achieving sustainable economic and social progress in all member States through increased co-operation and integration in all fields of development.

He said the benefits of a free trade and closer economic integration across the east and southern Africa cannot be over emphasized.

“The removal of barriers to trade whether legal or physical is necessary if countries in the COMESA region are to fully realize their potential,” he said.

Secretary General said the Irish government was one of the major contributors of aid in trade for the region and eradication of poverty programs amongst the EU member States.

In 2015, he said, Ireland provided approximately US$ 718 million in net Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), which represented 0.36% of gross national income (GNI) and a 1.9% increase in real terms from 2014.

Ireland is the 12th largest Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in terms of ODA as a percentage of GNI, and the 19th largest in terms of volume. The top recipients of Irish aid in 2012 included three COMESA countries; Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia with the core focus on fighting hunger.

Ngwenya said under the Africa Strategy titled “Ireland and Africa: our partnership with a changing continent,” the Irish government acknowledges Africa’s significant progress in terms of its economic and social development.

The new strategy brings together in a coherent way, the different elements of Irish engagement with Africa, including, building on development partnerships, advancing Irish political objectives and strengthening trade and investment.

He disclosed that Ireland’s merchandise trade with Africa has also increased by 26% from €1.7 billion in 2010 to €2.3 billion in 2015. He said in July this year, the Irish Government announced a call for applications for the Africa Agri-Food Development Programme (AADP).

The programme, which is part of Ireland’s overseas development cooperation programme, will support agri-food business partnerships in all African countries in which the Government has an Embassy - Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Ireland supports several important initiatives to encourage domestic resource mobilisation in Africa. This includes regional efforts such as the African Taxation Administrators Forum (ATAF), as well as support for bilateral collaboration between the Irish Revenue Commissioners and the Rwanda Revenue Authority.

Irish Aid is also engaged in ongoing support for private sector development, helping create improved conditions for investment. Ireland has strong links with many African countries often developed through missionary or aid projects.