Lusaka, Thursday, November 28, 2019: The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa – COMESA, celebrated 25 years since it was established in 1994 to succeed the Preferential Trade Area (PTA).
More than 300 delegates, led by Ministers and their representatives from the 21 Member States attended the celebrations hosted alongside the annual COMESA Policy Organs meetings in Lusaka, Zambia.
Among the key activities of the event were a high-level panel discussions that reflected on the past and the future of COMESA. Immediate former Deputy Chair of the African Union Mr. Erastus Mwencha, who is also a former Secretary General of COMESA was among panelists that included the current Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe, President of the Trade and Development Bank, Mr Admassu Tadesse and Chief Executives of the COMESA Competition Commission and PTA Reinsurance Company (ZepRe) Mr George Lipimile and Mrs Hope Murera respectively.
The panelists addressed a cross section of key issues in regional integration.
At the event, Burundi presented its instrument of ratification of the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement which brings COMESA, East African Community, and Southern Africa Community into a cooperative framework. This will bring to seven the number of countries that have so far ratified the Agreement.
The minister for trade, industry and tourism Hon. Jean-Marie Niyokindi presented the Ratification Instrument to COMESA Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe who is the chair of the Tripartite Task Force.
Transformative innovations that provides solutions to contemporary challenges, were recognized and awarded during the ceremony. The innovations were identified under the COMESA Innovation Award Scheme, which focus on new products, new methods of production and new ways of improving technology.
A trade platform, known as African Gate (AFGT) intended to create value by exchanging goods with the potential of re-exporting to new markets and thereby expand inter- African Trade was recognized. The innovator, Mr Mohamed Gaber of Giza Moto company of Egypt received $10,000 to assist to hep him commercialize the innovation.
“The major benefit of counter-trade is it facilitates conservation of foreign currency, which is a prime consideration for cash-strapped nations and provides an alternative to traditional financing that may not be available in developing nations,” said the innovator, Mohamed Gaber.
A previous winner of the Innovation Award, Mr. Jacob Maina of Kenya, testified on how financial support from COMESA helped him set up a successful motor vehicle security company. He is one of the 120 young African game-changers listed in Forbes Africa 2019, all under the age of 30.
The culmination of the COMESA Silver Jubilee Anniversary will be the 40th Council of Ministers meeting, which will take place Friday, 29 November 2019. The Ministers will review and approve the COMESA work programme and budget for 2020.