COMESA Council of Ministers Meets in Lusaka

Lusaka, Sunday, November 25, 2018: The COMESA Council of Minister conducted their 39th meeting in Lusaka , Zambia, on 25 November 2018. The meeting took stock of achievements recorded over the past year, addressed challenges that are affecting regional integration and plan the way forward.

Zambia’s Vice President Mrs Inonge Wina, opened the meeting. She cited the Free Trade Area as one of the main achievements of COMESA with 15 out of 21 Member States currently participating in the FTA. This figure is expected to rise to 17 when Tunisia and Somalia ratify the Treaty to complete their Membership to COMESA.

“We are happy to welcome Somalia and Tunisia….and this addition introduces new dynamism into the COMESA integration agenda and further expands the markets and cooperation,” Mrs Wina said.

The FTA is responsible for the positive growth recorded in COMESA’s global total exports which rose by 16.1% from US$87 billion in 2016 to US$101 billion in 2017 while intra-COMESA exports rose by 3.7% from US$8.8 billion in 2016 to US$9.2 billion in 2017 respectively.

Further, the meeting was informed that the Secretariat is due to conduct a mid-term review of the Medium-Term Strategic Plan which was adopted in 2016 to assess the region’s performance concerning the strategic objectives.

Member States were urged to focus on industrialization by ratifying and domesticating the COMESA Industrial Policy Implementation Plan which has nine key priority areas.

For infrastructure development and maintenance, the region was encouraged to come up with innovative ways of raising resources such as Public-Private Partnerships for infrastructural development and not rely on resources from the public sector alone.

In order to enhance knowledge on regional integration, COMESA is establishing a Virtual University on Regional Integration hosted by Kenyatta University which will offer post graduate level master’s degrees.

Mrs Wina pointed out that in as much as COMESA developed excellent instruments and policies all aimed at improving integration and boosting intra-COMESA trade, the level of implementation and participation by the Member States has continued to be low.

Addressing the Council of Ministers meeting for the first time since her appointment as Secretary General, Ms Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe renewed her commitment to the organization which is being led by a female since its creation some 37 years ago.

“I remain ever honoured and grateful for the opportunity to serve you and the confidence you have shown in me…..I will continue to count on your invaluable guidance, counsel and support,” she said.

Ms Kapwepwe added that COMESA is positioned to have meaningful influence in Africa and she will strive to have an organization that is well-managed, well-resourced, owned and appreciated by its stakeholders.

The theme for the one-day meeting is ‘COMESA – Towards Digital Economic Integration.

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