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New York, 12 October: COMESA, EAC and ECOWAS sub regions should work out ways of integrating their respective Free Trade Areas to fast track the realization of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in the First 10 Years of the Implementation of Africa Agenda 2063.

COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said the pragmatic approach, which has been accepted in principle by the African Union, is to build on what the different sub-regional economic communities have achieved.

He was addressing the Annual briefing of the African Regional Economic Communities to Member States of the United Nations and its entities that took place in New York Monday 12 October 2015.

The briefing centered on the role of African Regional and Sub Regional Organizations in Achieving Regional Integration: The Continental Free Trade Area within the context of the first 10 year implementation plan of Agenda 2063.

He described the sub-regional economic communities as the vehicles that will deliver the Agenda 2063 owing to the critical and catalytic role they play its implementation.

“Without exception all sub regional economic communities in Africa are implementing programs for developmental integration that places priority to the development of support institutions for regional integration and productive capacities,” Mr Ngwenya told the assembly. “These are a sine quo non for the structural transformation and modernization of African economies.”

Silencing the Guns

The Secretary General also briefed the forum on the COMESA’s role in “silencing the guns” in the region by developing programmes that respond to the economic and structural factors of conflicts. These programmes include the establishment of a conflict early warning system, supporting the management and resolution of existing conflicts, post conflict reconstruction, democratic governance and addressing security.

He said the current multiplicity of actors and programmes involved in conflict management need to be channeled towards the goals of conflict prevention and economic development.

He told the delegates that since the commencement of formal structures to address peace and security in 1999, COMESA has developed the conflict early warning system (COMWARN), which is focused on structural vulnerability assessments and identification of structural drivers of conflict for respective countries.

In addition, the organization supports the management and resolution of existing conflicts through its Committee of Elders that are mandated to work with the Secretariat on preventive peacemaking assignments. In this initiative, COMESA normally plays a supportive role where other RECs take the lead.

“The support post conflict reconstruction involves exploiting the nexus between trade, development and conflict prevention with COMESA supporting border communities of the Great Lakes region to enhance cross border trade using the COMESA Simplified Regime,” Mr Ngwenya said.

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