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Djibouti, Thursday, September 15, 2016: There is need for  individual member States in COMESA to take lead in specific regional integration programmes in which they are active and have a competitive edge in order to improve on implementation. The President of Djibouti H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh and the Secretary General of COMESA Mr Sindiso Ngwenya,  made this proposal when they met in Djibouti City.

They observed that Djibouti’s potential areas were in programmes relating to shipping, ports and cargo handling. The country’s port was well situated to serve the region and numerous investments were being made to expand its potential. Linked to the port is the development of roads as well as efforts to improve the air routes into Africa. Djibouti could also take the lead on clean climate and drought resistance share experiences.

Another issue discussed was the establishment of industrial investment zones that were underway in Djibouti and the investments that will be required to strategically exploit regional and international opportunities.

The Secretary General briefed the President on the preparation for the forthcoming COMESA Summit in October 2016 in Madagascar.

In a separate meeting with the Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry Mr. Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh and the Minister of Trade Mr Hassan Houmed Ibrahim, it was agreed that implementation of a €692,000 regional integration project would be expedited to fully utilize the resources by December 2016.

“The resources will be directed towards deeper analysis of agricultural value chains and market exploration and exploitation in the COMESA region with clear indication of the role Djibouti could play along the value chain,” they said.

The project is funded under the Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM) COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF) supported by the European Development Fund.

With regard to the development of a regional an integrated regional network for postal and telecommunications, the discussion, that involved the Minister of Communication, Mr. Abdi Youssouf Sougueh, urged for its speedy implementation as directed by the COMESA Council of Ministers in the past. Djibouti had been selected to coordinate the COMESA Telecommunications project (COMTEL) and this needed to be revived.

The meeting observed that the government of China was already undertaking  due diligence that will allow the region to operate one network using fibre optic network. Current roaming charges were cited as a hindrance to the open and frequent exchanges in the region. Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan was cited as having best practices following their decision to scrap roaming charges.

The leaders suggested that postal services in the region should facilitate regional couriers using the Amazon and Ali Baba model.