Lusaka, Zambia: COMESA and the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) met in Lusaka on 14th November 2016 and discussed ways of implementing the recently signed US$77 million dollars Regional Development Objectives Grant Agreement (RDOAG).

USAID East Africa Mission Director Karen Freeman, who was leading a team of experts in legal, technical, planning and finance held talks with Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya before having a roundtable meeting to enlighten programme implementers on the way forward in relation to the Regional Development Agreement.

The officers from COMESA and USAID also discussed how to transit from the current Integrated Partnership Assistance Agreement (IPAA) to the RDOAG.

The two leaders reaffirmed the strong ties that exist between COMESA and USAID and assured each other of continued cooperation and support for the betterment of both peoples.

Mr Ngwenya said COMESA has continued to enjoy excellent relations with USAID and the American government which has deepened over the previous years. The first partnership agreement with USAID was signed in 2003.

“We have over the years partnered with USAID through several agreements to strengthen regional integration and sustainable economic development. These agreements have gone a long way in deepening regional integration in our region,” Ngwenya said.

He added that the recently signed RDOAG has different objectives all of which are aimed at increasing trade and investment, promoting food security, building technical capacity, strengthening governance systems and promoting accountability.

On their part, USAID delegation leader Ms Freeman pointed out the importance of regional integration and added that the five year RDOAG was aligned to the 2016-2020 COMESA Medium Term Strategic Plan. She said the RDAOG is a way for COMESA and USAID to strengthen, deepen and further align their long-standing partnership in support of mutually-agreed development and strategic objectives.

She revealed that the partnership between COMESA and USAID has over the years helped create sustainable and integrated markets, increased the productivity of staple crops, reduced trade barriers, promoted trade and supported the movement of goods and services in the region.

Ms Freeman was accompanied by Dr. Candace Buzzard, USAID/KEA Deputy Mission Director for Integration and Support among other staff.