Lusaka, Monday, October 23, 2017: Top government officials led by Ministers from the 19 COMESA Member States will be converge in Lusaka, Zambia in the next two weeks for the annual decision-making policy organs meetings. They will be taking part in the 37th COMESA Council of Ministers’ meeting, the Intergovernmental Committee (IC) and the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters.
The Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters will be the curtain raiser and takes place from Thursday to Saturday 26 – 28 October 2017. It will be followed by the IC from Monday 30 October to Wednesday 1st November 2017 and the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th November 2017.
The theme for the meetings is ‘COMESA Towards Digital Economic Integration’. It seeks to refocus attention on the need to harness the potential of information communication technologies in addressing the existential challenges of regional integration. It comes at a time when the COMESA Secretariat has embarked on a digitization drive that has so far transformed all its meetings to paperless.
Further, it has introduced software’s to capture small scale trade data using smart phones to promote e-business; launched a Short Messaging Service (SMS) for reporting trade barriers and working on a digital Free Trade Area Application that will incorporate e-Commerce, e-Legislation and e-Logistics.
Delegates in the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters will deal with budget of the Secretariat including Member States assessed contributions. It is expected to come up with innovative ways of financing regional integration programmes given the challenges that some member States have in meeting their financial obligations to the Secretariat and its institutions.
The Intergovernmental Committee will bring together Permanent or Principal Secretaries designated by each of the 19 Member States. It is responsible for the development of programmes and action plans in all fields of co-operation except in the finance and monetary sector. The IC will review various status reports on the implementation of regional integration programmes.
The recommendations of the IC meeting which will incorporate that of the administrative and budget matters will be presented to the Council of the Ministers for decision making. The decisions taken by the Council will be binding to all the Member States and will also constitute the work programme for the COMESA Secretariat in the coming year and beyond.
Development partners that support COMESA programmes will attend some of the sessions.