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Djibouti, Thursday, May 25, 2017: COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya says that for integration to work well, design of regional and national programmes should be carried out in close collaboration with national authorities including representatives of the private sector and non-state actors.

In his statement at the European Union regional seminar on ‘Linking Regional and National Programmes’, in Djibouti, Mr. Ngwenya said regional programmes should be guided by national priorities and must be harmonized with various phases of domestic and regional value chains.

“A significant share of regional programmes concentrate on supporting   downstream activities of regional value chains, at the expense of the upstream activities,” he said. “The upstream activities are important as they deal with actual production, value creation and transformation of inputs into the final tradable products.”

An examination of different regional programmes in the COMESA region revealed a higher share of the programme activities and resource allocation is used for facilitation, coordination, capacity building and other ‘soft’ public sector projects.

“The main concern is that such programmes in most cases are prepared without the involvement of the private sector who are supposed to be the key drivers of regional integration,” Mr. Ngwenya noted.

He said that development partners can assist by ensuring that their support schemes are driven by each region’s specific priorities in order to enhance ownership and sustainability.

In this regard, partners should consider assisting COMESA and other RECs to address some of their supply side constraints at country level. COMESA and other RECs would benefit from continued improvement in business and social infrastructure and promotion of sustainable sectorial policies.

A recent transposition survey within the COMESA region observed that slow progress in the mainstreaming of regional commitments in the national development plans are higher for those programmes perceived by member states as barely enhancing their competitiveness and ability to trade.

The Secretary General called for change in the way co-operating partners delivered their aid by placing more emphasis on supporting the private sector to produce more tradable goods as opposed to investing in public goods which may be delivered through smart public private partnerships.

He advocated for the promotion of innovative smart partnerships between the public and private sectors

“Partners should consider leveraging/blending grants with loans for their support to be valuable and produce sustainable results. Mr. Ngwenya said. “Much more support should be directed at developing the domestic resource mobilization capability of partner States.”