COMESA, development partners forum to enhance complementarity

Thursday, September 16, 2021: To ensure coherence in the implementation of regional integration programmes supported by development partners and enhance complementarity, COMESA Secretariat hosted the 3rd Joint Development Partners’ Coordination Forum on 15 – 16th September 2021.

The forum sought to deepen engagement and commitment from the development partners and understand the sectors they focus on. It brought together multilateral, bilateral, UN and other international agencies that contribute financial and technical support to the COMESA programmes.

The forum was driven by the need to share COMESA’s experiences and the challenges that are faced when implementing the regional integration agenda. Thus, it was intended to enhance the development partners’ understanding of how COMESA works, how thematic policy issues are addressed and how the programmes could be better supported.

Over the last 10 years, the partners’ support has formed the bulwark of programmes’ funding with the European Union in the fore, followed by the African Development Bank and the World Bank. For instance, in the implementation of the COMESA 2011 – 2015 Medium Term Strategic Plan, donor support constituted 75% of programmes’ funding and 54% on average in the 2016 – 2020 period.

The support has been channelled through the COMESA Secretariat and its institutions in recognition that they provide a coordinated framework for supporting regional objective.

This enables a harmonized and transparent aid delivery model by development partners, using existing structures regarding programming, implementation, and disbursements of resources and ensuring complementarity.

Speaking at the opening, Secretary General of COMESA, Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe appreciated the continued support, both financial and technical assistance that development partners have provided even during the COVID-19 crisis.

“At a time when economic uncertainty reigns in most parts of the world and many national budgets are affected by the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are grateful for your continued support and trust placed in COMESA, and in the work that we do,” she said.

She added that post-COVID-19 crisis demands even stronger collective effort to tackle the challenges posed by a changed environment.

During the pandemic, COMESA developed and has been implementing the COVID-19 guidelines and an on-line platform for exchange of information on the availability of essential medical supplies and other goods.

It has also developed an industrial strategy which focuses on nine priority areas: agro-food, energy, textiles and clothing, leather and leather products, mineral enhancement, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and agro-chemicals, light engineering and blue economy.

In his remarks, the EU Head of cooperation in Zambia, Mr Arnaud Borchard called for enhanced creativity and innovation by the regional economic community, by coming up with programmes that are resilient in the current COVID-19 period.

“COMESA cannot afford to wait for the pandemic to clear but should instead develop ways and processes that will enhance regional integration despite existing challenges,” he said.

Programme managers at the COMESA Secretariat took the participants through their respective programmes, covering trade, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, and cross-cutting issues such as gender and social affairs, peace and security, statistics and climate change.

At the closing, participants appreciated the forum for providing a mechanism for donors’ feedback on the COMESA programmes performance.

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