The need for the sustainability of regional integration programmesÂ supported by the COMESA Adjustment Facility has prompted the Secretariat to develop a CAF sustainability strategy that will ensure the various programmes are continuous and self-sustaining. Over-reliance on a single funding source which is the European Union (EU) has been a major concern on the sustainability of the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF) by COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya.
COMESA Member States have often bemoaned lack of funds to address social and economic adjustments that accompany the trade and regional integration process which limit their ability to fully exploit opportunities of the region. While the private sector is seen as an engine for social and economic growth in the region, its potential is yet to be fully exploited.
Responding to the challenge, COMESA is developing a CAF Sustainability Strategy for 2016-2020 aimed at gradually weaning off the programme from solely depending on the European Development Funds (EDF) of the EU to other internal and external sources of funding.
COMESA Aid for Trade (COMAID) Coordinator Hope Situmbeko said the overall objective of the CAF Sustainability Strategy is to ensure coordinated and sustainable resources for enhancing integration programmes and ultimately achieving inclusive growth and development in COMESA.
Mrs. Situmbeko said ownership and harmonization of both external and internal sources of funding are some of the core principles to be highlighted in the CAF Sustainability Strategy.
Drawing lessons from other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as the Africa Union (AU), ECOWAS, EAC and the EU, the CAF Sustainability Strategy urges COMESA member states to take a leading role in funding the facility beyond COMESA Fund membership contributions.
The CAF strategy calls for the need to explore other options for raising funds that includes increased Member States and private sector contributions and setting up an agreed framework to operationalize the Common Market Levy as provided for by Article 168 of the Treaty establishing the COMESA.
Other proposed internal sources of financing include the need for the COMESA Secretariat to benefit from its institutions and agencies particularly those that are profitable through dividends and loyalties.
Since 2008, CAF has evolved from focusing on revenue loss compensation to a trade facilitation instrument for building capacities of member states in their regional integration efforts. Among the successes of the CAF, under the Regional Integration Support Mechanism (CAF/RISM) includes domestication of COMESA instruments and regulations, removal of Non- Tariff Barriers, and facilitating trade.