21st COMESA Heads of State and Government Summit

The COMESA Summit

COMESA Heads of State and Government Summit is the forum that brings together the Heads of State or Government of the Member States and is officially referred to as The Authority. The Authority is the supreme Policy Organ of the Common Market, responsible for the general policy and direction and control of the performance of the executive functions of the Common Market and the achievement of its aims and objectives and shall have such other powers as are vested in it under the Treaty.

The Theme

The theme of the 21st Summit is “Building Resilience Through Strategic Digital Economic Integration”. It was motivated by the emerging regional and global economic and trade dynamics which have an impact on COMESA regional agenda. The outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic was undoubtedly the most impactful phenomenon, with devastating social and economic aftermath. Therefore, the theme for this year’s Summit focuses on how to cushion and advance the COMESA regional integration agenda using digital platforms given uncertainty nature of shocks. The theme is also influenced by the focus area of the incoming Chairperson of the COMESA Authority.

Immediate past themes:

2016 – 2021:    COMESA: Towards Digital Economic Integration

2015 – 2016:    Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation

2014 – 2015:    Consolidating Intra-COMESA Trade through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development;

Back to Egypt after two decades

The last time the COMESA Summit was hosted by the Arab Republic of Egypt was in 2001.

The 2021 Summit comes after a three-year pause since the last was hosted by the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia, on 18-19 July 2018. Ordinarily the Summit is scheduled to take place every year. But in the past five years, it has been conducted only once; the 20th edition in Zambia.

The last regular Summit was the 19th in the series conducted in October 2016, in Madagascar. Regular in this context means the Summit was hosted by a Member State according to plan and followed the previous one in sequence. Hosting of the Summit is a voluntary choice by a Member States. The prospective host makes the offer during the preceding summit, and this is subsequently endorsed by the assembly of the Head of State and Government.

Passing on the baton

Madagascar will have set a record as the longest serving chair, since the creation of the regional bloc when it passes the leadership of COMESA to Egypt. This unprecedented situation was occasioned by unforeseen circumstances that made it difficult to hold the Summit on schedule. Thus, Madagascar has been the substantive chair of all meetings at the technical and policy levels since 2016 when it took the mantle from Ethiopia.

The Summit: An Assembly of the COMESA Authority

The composition and functions of the Authority are provided under Article 8 of the COMESA Treaty. Broadly, they entail giving directions and decisions. At the end of every Summit, the leaders issue a communique that contains such decisions and directions that are binding on the Member States and on all other organs of the Common Market, other than the COMESA Court of Justice. 

New Members of the Authority

Since the last Summit in 2018, at least 10 Heads of State and Government have taken leadership of their respective countries. They include:

  1. H.E Evariste Ndayishimiye, President of Burundi;
  2. H.E.  Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo;
  3. H.E Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi;
  4. H.E Andry Nirina Rajoelina, President of Madagascar
  5. H.E Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius;
  6. H.E. Wavel Ramkalawan, President of Seychelles;
  7. H.E. Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of Sudan.
  8. H.E Mohamed Hussein Roble, Prime Minister of Somalia
  9. H.E. Kais Saied, President of Tunisia;
  10. H.E. Hakainde Hichilema, President of Zambia.

As part of the welcoming tradition, leaders attending the Summit for the first time have an opportunity make their maiden speeches.

Past Chairpersons of the COMESA Authority

  1. 2018 – 2021     President Andry Rajoelina – Madagascar- (Outgoing)
  2. 2016 – 2018:    President Hery Rajaonarimampianina – Madagascar
  3. 2015 – 2016:    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn – Ethiopia
  4. 2014 – 2015:    President Joseph Kabila Kabange – DR Congo
  5. 2012 – 2014     President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni – Uganda
  6. 2011 – 2012     President Prof. Bingu Wa Mutharika – Malawi
  7. 2010 – 2011     His Majesty King Mswati III – Kingdom of Eswatini (Then Swaziland)
  8. 2009 – 2010:    President Robert Gabriel Mugabe – Zimbabwe
  9. 2007 – 2009:    President Mwai Kibaki – Kenya
  10. 2006 – 2007:    President Ismail Omar Guelleh – Djibouti
  11. 2005 – 2006:    President Paul Kagame – Rwanda
  12. 2004 – 2005:    President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni – Uganda
  13. 2003 – 2004:    President Omar Al Bashir – Sudan
  14. 2002 – 2003:    Prime Minister Meles Zenawi – Ethiopia
  15. 2001 – 2002:    President Hosni Mubarak – Egypt
  16. 2000 – 2001:    President Sir Anerood Jugnauth – Mauritius
  17. 1999 – 2000:    President Daniel Arap Moi – Kenya
  18. 1997 – 1999:    President Dr. Frederick Chiluba – Zambia
  19. 1994 – 1997:    President Dr Bakili Muluzi – Malawi

Egypt and COMESA

Summit Ceremonies