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  • Trade

    The final objective of cooperation in Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs is to achieve a fully integrated, internationally competitive and unified single economic space within which goods, services, capital and labour are able to move freely across national frontiers. Thus, the programme of cooperation aims to achieve the removal of all physical, technical, fiscal and monetary barriers to intra-regional trade and commercial exchanges through the following stages of integration:
    1. A Preferential Trade Area (PTA) with lower tariffs applied to intra-regional trade originating in member countries than to extra-regional trade.
    2. A Free Trade Area (FTA), in which no tariffs are levied on goods from other member States whilst each member State applies its own regime of tariffs to goods imported from outside the region.
    3. A Customs Union (CU) involving free trade amongst the member States but with a Common External Tariff (CET) according to which every member State applies the same tariffs on goods from outside the region.
    4. A Common Market (CM) with free movement of capital and labour, considerable harmonisation of trade, exchange rate, fiscal and monetary policies, internal exchange rate stability and full internal convertibility.
    5. An Economic Community (EU) with a common currency and unified macroeconomic policy.

    The creation of a unified, single economic space will closely link the national economies of the member States together and significantly increase the degree of economic integration in the region, resulting in profound structural changes in the economies of the member States. This will strengthen economic interdependence among the member countries, reduce the room for independent policy-making and amplify the cross-border effects of developments originating in each member country. This necessitates effective policy coordination among the member States, including the pursuit of policies in support of broadly balanced development to complement the creation of the unified market without internal borders.
    The creation of a zone of increasing monetary stability is also imperative for the achievement of market integration. This entails the pursuit of monetary cooperation with the final goal of a common currency. This, in turn, implies a common monetary policy, a high degree of compatibility of economic policies and consistency in a number of other policy areas, particularly in the fiscal area. The aim is to gear these policies to price stability, balanced growth, rising and converging standards of living, high employment and external equilibrium.

    The unified economic space with the four freedoms - goods, services, capital and labour - comprises the following basic elements:

    • a regional market without internal frontiers within which goods, services, capital and labour can move freely;
    • common policies aimed at structural change and regional development;
    • macroeconomic policy coordination
    • competition policy and other measures aimed at strengthening market mechanisms;
    • assurance of the total and irreversible convertibility of currencies;
    • full integration of banking and other financial markets; and
    • pursuit of measures for the eventual creation of a monetary union.
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  • Infrastructure

    COMESA has recognized infrastructure development as a priority and strategic focus area that requires special attention. The Strategic Objective to be pursued is, therefore, to effectively address constraints related to the improvement of infrastructure and services in the region in order to reduce the cost of doing business and also and to enhance competitiveness, through fostering physical regional connectivity and deepening infrastructure integration.

    A holistic and corridor based approach to infrastructure development has been adopted s based on three key pillars i.e. policy and regulatory harmonization, development of priority regional physical infrastructure covering transport, information communications technologies (ICT) and energy. The transport sector covers civil aviation, surface transport (covering road and rail) and water transport covering maritime and inland water transport subsectors The ICT comprises telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services subsectors, whilst Energy covers electricity, fossil fuels and renewable energy subsectors.

    A number of key strategies have been adopted in order to achieve the infrastructure strategic objective indicated above. They include the following:

    1. Development and revision of model policies and regulations (for Transport, ICT, and Energy);
    2. Development of aid for trade programs along the major regional corridors including the establishment of One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs);
    3. Development of legal and institutional frameworks for public private sector partnerships in order to increase the private sector participation in infrastructure development; and
    4. Implementation of a communication strategy for the dissemination of information on development of infrastructure projects to all stakeholders.

    Below are the main units in the Division:-

    Implementation of the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TTTFP)

    This programme is relevant for the Agenda 2030. It contributes primarily to the progressive achievement of SDG target 9 (built resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster industrialisation), but also promotes progress towards Goal "Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all". This does not imply a commitment by the Member States of SADC, COMESA and EAC benefiting from this programme.

    The overall strategic objective is “to facilitate the development of a more competitive, integrated and liberalised regional road transport market in the East and Southern African region.

    The project purpose is to develop and implement harmonised road transport policies, laws, regulations and standards for efficient cross border road transport and transit networks, transport and logistics services, systems and procedures in the East and Southern African region.

    The expected results are:

    • Result 1: EA-SA Vehicle Load Management Strategy Implemented;
    • Result 2: Harmonised EA-SA vehicle regulations and standards implemented;
    • Result 3: Preconditions for an operational EA-SA transport registers and information platform and system implemented;
    • Result 4: Efficiency of regional transport corridors improved.

    Beneficiaries and Stakeholders
    The principal beneficiaries and stakeholders are:

    • The three Tripartite Regional Economic Communities (RECs) (COMESA, EAC and SADC);
    • Public Sector- Ministries, regulatory agencies and government executing agencies responsible for transport policy and transport infrastructure development and other ministries involved in road transport, traffic and infrastructure;
    • Private Sector- Service providers such as cross border transporters and clearing and forwarding agencies, port and maritime authorities in the transport and logistics industry;
    • Public and Private sector industry associations and federations such as Association of SADC National Road Agencies (ASANRA), Federation of East and Southern Africa Road Transporter Associations, Federation of Clearing and Forwarding Associations of Southern Africa (FCFASA), Federation of East African Freight Forwarders (FEAFFA) and Port Management Association of East and Southern Africa (PMAESA), Corridor Management Institutions (CMIs).

    Technical Assistance
    The programme will provide Technical Assistance (TA) to member states to assist them to comply with the obligations of Chapter 5 (Road Transport) and Chapter 6 (Road Traffic) provisions of the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology and the road transport laws, regulations, standards and systems developed under the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme. The TA request procedures and TA Request Template to be completed can be found below.

  • Industry & Agriculture

    This Division is incharge of promoting investment in the COMESA region.

    • COMESA Business Council
    • Investment Promotions
    • CAADP
    • Science & Technology
    • SAMCA
    • Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources
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  • Administration

    The Division of Administration offers a key support service to the COMESA Secretariat. The mandate of the division is to provide Member States, Executive Management, Secretariat and other stakeholders with the Administrative services and advice they need.  The Division is there to provide a high level of service and support on issues related to Human Resources, Conferencing, Procurement and General Services which will allow other Divisions and Units to efficiently and effectively execute their programmes and deliver on their mandates.  The Division also ensures that all the resources, i.e. both budgetary and extra budgetary funds and human and physical assets, are properly accounted for in an efficient, secure and appropriately controlled Administrative environment.

    The specific focus areas are as follows:

    To ensure that the Secretariat is adequately staffed with appropriately qualified, experienced and motivated personnel who are continuously developing their skills, knowledge and attitude to meet the challenges of Regional Integration.   The Unit therefore plays the following role:

    • Recruitment of staff under COMESA established & non established posts and the recruitment of staff under Projects
    • Review and updating of job descriptions for the various posts, whenever necessary
    • Preparation and Renewal of contracts for professional and general service staff in both established and non-established positions
    • Implementation of Council decisions on all administrative and staff matters
    • Implementation the approved staff development programmes
    • Ensure implementation monitoring of the Performance Management System and the appropriate remuneration policy
    • Improving the human resources record systems to ensure that the both the electronic and manual records are up to date
    • Attend to staff welfare issues

    To provide support services to the Secretariat and Member States in terms of organisation and management of meetings including logistics and procurement of services required for the same.  It is their responsibility to ensure that all meetings conducted by the Secretariat are properly organised and managed towards achieving the planned output of the meeting.  This involves the following:

    • Organizing appropriate venues for meetings
    • Providing translation services for meetings
    • Providing interpretation services for meetings
    • Hiring of interpretation equipment
    • Ensuring all technical facilities are in place and in good working order
    • Providing documentation services for meetings

    :  To effectively and efficiently provide quality goods and services required by the Secretariat to successfully implement its projects at the right time within approved resources. The Procurement and General Services section ensures that all procurement of goods, services and works is based on sound economic and financial principles such as transparency, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness.  In addition the Unit performs other support functions such as arranging official travel, protocol duties including official functions, provision of communication and registry services, stores management and provision of official transport. The Unit performs the following key functions:

    • Procurement planning;
    • Advise requisitioning Divisions and Projects on the full range of procurement issues, providing support and guidance at all stages of the procurement cycle;
    • Ensure procurement activities are processed in a timely and cost effective manner that best fulfils the requirements of the Secretariat;
    • Make transport and travel arrangements for staff and delegates,
    • Inventory management

    :  The Estates Unit is responsible for the maintenance of all the Secretariat’s fixed assets. These include the COMESA Centre and the Executive residences as well as all the movable and immovable assets. In pursuit of providing the Secretariat with a pleasant, safe and secure environment the Unit ensures that COMESA properties are well managed and maintained.  This is done by the following activities:

    • Constant maintenance of the buildings and repair of any defects,
    • Housekeeping of public areas of the Secretariat both inside and outside the buildings,
    • Provision and maintenance of office space, furniture, fixtures and fittings,
    • Provision of Security services at the COMESA properties,
    • Responsible for capital developments
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  • Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources

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  • Information & Networking

    In the area of Information Technology, COMESA’s main intervention is to promote the use and awareness of Information Technology to lead to the Information Society and to contribute to socio-economic integration.

    The importance of education cannot be underplayed in contributing to the development of nations and ultimately to regional integration. In ensuring that that the region has quick and easy access to varied education. COMESA has partnered with the Government of Kenya for the effectively delivery of learning online through the e-Learning system available on

    The elements of efficient and transparent governance have been emphasised on for governments to improve on service delivery and accountability. COMESA has therefore developed a regional e-Government framework and developed a portal to help harmonise e-Government efforts in the region and to assist the Member States in implementing e-Government. The United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN) is a key partner in the implementation of the e-Government programme for COMESA. The portal is available on

    To facilitate e-trade and ensure harmonisation of legal instruments for the introduction of electronic technology for trade in the region, COMESA embarked on the development of e-legislation guidelines for the Member States through a comprehensive study done in 2006. UNCITRAL has also been engaged to provide the necessary technical support on the programme. A study is soon to be commissioned to draft regulations to facilitate secure electronic transactions. The expected date of completion of the study is July, 2010.

    Further efforts to facilitate trade using Information and Communications Technology (ICT’s) are in the area of Customs modernisation where COMESA plays a major role in assisting the Member States to improve their Customs Administrations. Currently support is provided for the ASYCUDA customs management software in collaboration with UNCTAD.

    The main programmes being implemented and guided by the technical committee on Information Technology comprising members from the Member States, are therefore in:

    These programmes are a core part of the organisation’s IT Master Plan which comprises activities such as:

    • Geographical Information Systems(GIS)
    • Upgrading of Secretariat’s IT network services; and
    • Development and Support of Information Systems that address the needs of the various programmes in the Secretariat.

    The programmes and activities in Information Technology will continuously evolve and aim to fulfil the objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).

    Quick naps not only improve your alertness, but they also help in decision making, creativity and sensory perception.

    The main programmes being implemented and guided by the technical committee on Information Technology comprising members from the Member States, are therefore in:

    These programmes are a core part of the organisation’s IT Master Plan which comprises activities such as:

    • Geographical Information Systems(GIS)
    • Upgrading of Secretariat’s IT network services; and
    • Development and Support of Information Systems that address the needs of the various programmes in the Secretariat.
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  • Budget & Finance

    Role Purpose:
    To provide Member States, Management, Secretariat and other stakeholders with financial services and advice they need and ensure that all the resources both budgetary and extra budgetary are properly accounted for in an efficient, secure and appropriately controlled financial environment.
    Key Responsibilities:

    • To develop, review and implement finance policies and procedures which meet COMESA’s operational needs and which are in line with its values, in order to support the achievement of its operational and strategic goals and objectives.
    • To deliver or manage the delivery of a range of agreed financial services to internal customers to enable managers to manage budgets effectively, deploy COMESA’s resources for the intended purposes and enable staff to fulfill their client and customer financial needs/requirements.
    • To safeguard COMESA’s financial resources and assets ensuring they are accounted for in accordance with GAAP and IFRS and are utilized in an efficient and effective way that enables the Chief Accounting Officer to discharge his mandate to COMESA’s stakeholders.

    COMESA’s sources of funding are mainly the Member States and Cooperating Partners. The latter’s contributions are quite significant and account for twice the resources collected from the Member States. It is envisaged that COMESA will in future raise significant independent funding pursuant to a provision of the COMESA Treaty, Section 168 (1) which provides that, “There is hereby instituted a Common Market Levy for the purpose of generating resources for financing Common Market activities;”

    It is being proposed that the Budget and Finance division consist of 3 sections namely; Budgetary Resources, Extra-Budgetary Resources, and Internal Control.

    Budgetary Resources
    The section is charged with the following responsibilities:

    • Providing finance support to the technical divisions and Member States;
    • Preparing budget proposals for the Secretariat and ensuring their implementation;
    • Ensuring timely collection of income Member States and other Secretariat debtors and that the funds are properly accounted for;
    • Disbursement of funds in accordance with COMESA’s financial rules and regulations;
    • Maintaining up-to-date primary books of accounts and implement adequate systems of internal control
    • Administering the Integrated Financial Management system ensuring data is correctly posted and reports extracted to aid management decision making and external reporting.
    • Administering, checking and approving the payroll.
    • Preparing COMESA’s monthly Management Accounts and Annual Financial Statements for both internal and external use.
    • Ensuring COMESA’s Fixed Assets are fully accounted for.
    • Coordination of annual external audit in order to reinforce COMESA’s accountability for its resources.
    • Treasury management including management of COMESA investments to ensure maximum returns on excess resources at the same time managing the risk involved in making such investments.

    Extra-Budgetary Resources
    The Section shall be responsible for the following functions:

    • Preparation of annual budgets for the Projects funded by Cooperating Partners.
    • Preparation of monthly Management Accounts for the Projects.
    • Ensure timely replenishment of funds from the donors funding the above mentioned projects.
    • Responsible for disbursements in regard to goods and services purchased on the above projects funds ensuring strict compliance with donor contribution agreements;
    • Participate in the successful implementation of activities in the above projects, e.g. seminars, meetings etc by ensuring that each payment is released on time and correctly and supported by relevant documents.
    • Preparation of accurate of annual financial reports for the external audit of the above mentioned projects.
    • Co-ordinate audits, monitoring and evaluations of the above projects’ funding;
    • Monitoring cash flows on the above mentioned projects.

    Internal Control
    The Section shall perform the following specific functions:

    • Reviewing, appraising and reporting upon:
      • the soundness, adequacy and application of financial and other management controls;
      • suitability and reliability of financial and other management data developed within the organisation;
    • Advising on controls to be incorporated into new or revised financial and accounting systems and procedures;
    • Conduct pre-audit of all disbursement transactions verifying their compliance with relevant legislative rules, regulations and administrative decisions;
    • Check Imprest Retirements’ legitimacy, reasonableness, completeness, accuracy, approvals, supporting documentation and total compliance with established policies and procedures.
    • Recommends imprest retirements to Director or follow up action as necessary and monitor implementation of latter.
    • Checking and monitoring advance payments to vendors especially with particular emphasis to purchase of airline tickets.
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  • Gender & Social Affairs

    The Gender and Social Affairs Division in the COMESA Secretariat, exists to provide leadership, direction and oversight of the implementation of the COMESA Gender Policy in the Member States and at the Secretariat. The Division sets out to achieve this purpose through mainstreaming of gender as a crosscutting issue within the Secretariat and the COMESA programmes and overseeing the implementation of the Social and Cultural Affairs activities.

    In line with Articles 154 and 155 of the COMESA Treaty, and in recognition of the fact that sustainable economic and social development of the region requires the effective participation of women, men and youth, the 7th COMESA Summit of the Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May 2002 adopted the COMESA Gender Policy and the Addis Ababa Declaration on Gender. The COMESA Gender Policy advocates equal and full participation of women in all aspects of COMESA activities and other operations taking place in the region. It emphasizes the principle of Affirmative Action across all spheres of COMESA policies, systems, structures, programmes and activities in order to redress existing gender imbalances. Essentially, affirmative action will be employed to ensure that barriers that prevent women’s participation in core COMESA activities such as trade, the private sector, infrastructure development and science and technology are addressed and removed. Also, this will ensure that policies, programmes, projects, administrative procedures and practices of COMESA Secretariat, COMESA institutions, COMESA structures and their budgets are gender sensitive.

    The Gender Policy is also intended for facilitating the engendering of legislation and development policies in Member States in order to promote women’s access to and control over production and productivity resources such as land, credit, technology and information. In line with article 143 of the COMESA Treaty, the policy also integrates the mainstreaming of cross-cutting issues such as HIV and AIDS, poverty, governance , environment, information, communication and technology, gender based violence, substance and drug abuse and related developmental issues into all its policies, structures and operations. In order to achieve, a full implementation of the Policy, the COMESA Secretariat has developed a Gender Mainstreaming Strategy and the five years action Plan. Work is in progress to develop a COMESA Social Charter as a basis for formulating regulations and programmes for better implementation of social and cultural issues.

    The full implementation of the COMESA Gender Policy will significantly contribute to the overall attainment of COMESA’s vision and strategy for the 21st century, which is: integrating gender into the mainstream of the work of COMESA.

    Gender Mainstreaming
    Since 2009, COMESA Secretariat has been implementing its five year Gender Mainstreaming Strategic Action Plan. The main achievements realized so far on Gender Mainstreaming include, the development of the Gender Mainstreaming manuals that will serve as guidelines to foster the mainstreaming of Gender perspectives in the COMESA’s Regional Intergration agenda with special attention to Trade, Infrastructure, Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development, Environment, Peace and Conflict prevention, HIV and AIDS, Information and Communication and COMESA institutions. The manuals will also act as tools for monitoring the extent to which the Secretariat and Member States implement gender-focused programmes in line with the COMESA Gender Policy and the Strategic Action Plan.   In addition to this the Secretariat has developed a specific strategy- Regional Strategy and Action Plan (RESTRAP) for mainstreaming Gender into COMESA’s Agriculture and Climate Change programmes.

    The secretariat also works to integrate the mainstreaming of cross-cutting issues such as HIV and AIDS in order to control such epidemics. The COMESA Secretariat has developed a multi-sectoral programme on HIV/ and AIDS through the financial assistance of the Swedish/NORAD grant. The programme document  which was endorsed by the Thirtieth Meeting of COMESA Council of Ministers,  was finalized following consultations with the other RECs  who currently are running similar  HIV/ and AIDS programmes funded by the same donor.  The overall goal of the multisectoral programme on HIV and AIDS is to contribute to the reduction of the epidemic and also mitigate its negative impacts in the COMESA region.

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  • Corporate Communications

    Corporate Communications Unit backstops all communication activities that COMESA undertakes, both within and outside the organization. It works to maintain consistent flow of information between COMESA and its diverse publics across the region and beyond by raising public awareness on regional integration initiatives and galvanizing broad support for the realization of the vision of the Common Market.

    The Unit uses a wide range of communication channels, tools and techniques to achieve the COMESA corporate communication imperatives as follows;

    Publicity and media relations
    The Unit coordinates press coverage of all COMESA events locally and regionally through mobilization of journalists, organizing press conferences and interviews, preparing and issuing press releases, coordinating responses to press questionnaires among others. It conducts the annual COMESA Media Awards Scheme by identifying, recognizing and awarding individual journalists from the Member States who contribute to the objective of regional integration through their works in print, broadcast and online media. The Unit maintains a database and network of journalists from across the region for sharing information and news on the implementation of COMESA programmes in 19 Member States.

    Audio/visual productions
    COMESA Corporate Communications Unit covers all key events through video, print and photography. This includes production of video documentaries and news clips for news in in online platforms and for sharing with media houses.

    Production of publications
    The Unit identifies and packages technical information into editorial content on various COMESA activities in the form of newsletters, brochures, fliers, booklets and digital publications. This includes graphic design works for publications and other promotional and assorted publicity merchandize.

    Online media optimization
    The Unit generates and disseminates regular news updates through COMESA website and social media platforms. This includes u[dating the online photo and video galleries.

    Corporate relations
    The Unit conducts study tours and lectures on regional integration for stakeholders including students and professionals groups such as the media and others.

    The Unit maintains high visibility of the COMESA brand and identity through branding, advertising, design and placement of billboards in strategic areas and other publicity tools.

  • Executive Support Division

    The objective of the unit is to contribute to the impact, efficiency and effectiveness of COMESA Member States “trade reforms and regional integration initiatives so that they can fully benefit from regional and international trade opportunities, reduce poverty and achieve their (MDG) development objectives.

    1. Prepare a coherent Regional Aid for Trade Strategy ,and compatible programmes to access available resources;
    2. Mobilisation of the necessary funding and promoting wide range Cooperation so as to assist Member States implementation the Regional Integration agenda.
    3. Maintaining good working relations with regional, continental and International organizations so as to enhance regional integration with the ultimate objective of establishing the African Economic Community as enshrined in the Lagos Plan of Action and the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
    4. Co-ordinate and monitor the implementation of the different components of the Regional Aid for Trade strategy and programmes;
    5. Provide, on a demand basis, support to individual Member States in preparing and implementing National Aid for Trade Strategies;
    6. Act as the entry point for all cooperating partners and to organize regular donor coordination forums.
    7. Ensure complementarities between national and regional Aid for Trade strategies within the COMESA region;
    8. Co-ordinate and harmonise regional Aid for Trade programmes with other RECs, particularly within the ESA-IO region, as well as at the Continental level with the AUC, NEPAD, and AFDB;
    9. Provide support to the COMESA Secretariat in operationalizing (and in overseeing) the COMESA infrastructure Fund and the COMESA Adjustment Facility.
  • COMESA Information Resource Center

    COMESA Information Resource Center is established under article 142 of the COMESA treaty to acquire, store and retrieve all documents, regulations, public notices, databases and other documents with regard to national development plans, official gazettes, central bank annuals, periodic reports and other documents as may be determined and notified by the Resource Center from time to time, with respect to the Member State.

    Digital Library Initiative
    Building COMESA Knowledge base by acquisition of pertinent resources, managing and facilitating technical services which involve documentation, classification and automation of information resources and services.
    Information dissemination
    The Resource Center comes in to bridge the insatiable appetite for information on regional integration within the COMESA region. Dissemination involves various activities and takes both print and digital formats.
    Official regional depository
    As the official regional depository of information resources, the Resource Center collects from all Member States, documents pertinent to regional integration, processes this information and makes it ready for use through a web-based library information system.
    Institutional Repository
    The Resource Center is the nerve center for COMESA Institutional memory. It collects and documents all program activities of the Secretariat. Adoption of the digital repository platforms ensures that the organization’s history is preserved in formats that are accessible to the future generations.
    The Resource Center is in the forefront in building partnerships, linkages and knowledge sharing engagements, based on the principle of information that no one information unit is self sufficient in demand for  information resources. Partnerships cut across relevant government ministries, academia, research organizations, regional policy think tanks, chambers of commerce, national library networks and association of manufacturers in Member States among others.