Lusaka, Monday, February 24, 2020: The COMESA Innovation Award, the Annual Research Forums and the Virtual Master’s degree programme in regional integration have been acknowledged as some of the best practices in trade and investment.
The three were presented during a Knowledge Sharing on Trade and Investment Good Practices forum conducted in Brussels on 4- 5 February 2020. Arising from the presentation made by COMESA representatives and subsequent deliberations, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has now expressed interest in collaborating with COMESA on the Master’s degree programme in regional integration.
The knowledge sharing forum was organized to disseminate good practices developed by Trade Com II supported programmes. COMESA signed a contribution agreement with the European Union under the ACP TradeCom II Capacity Building Programme in July 2019. The Grant aims at supporting COMESA in trade policy analysis, enhance capacity for trade policy research and training and build practical skills and knowledge to support regional integration.
At the forum, COMESA was represented by Research Fellow Ms. Jane Kibiru, and Finance Specialist Ms. Fungwa Kabati. Ms. Kibiru presented a paper on “Enhancing Capacity of Trade Policy Analysis and Training for Deeper Regional Integration” under trade policy and regulation cluster.
In the paper, she outlined the envisaged outputs under the Grant including training of policy makers/trade officials in economic and trade policy analysis and trade negotiations; undertaking applied trade policy research, dissemination of research outputs, implementation of the Virtual Master’s degree programme in regional integration and scholarships opportunities available to students.
The presentation also highlighted the enhanced capacity in trade and economic policy research and negotiations and increased partnerships and networks to be undertaken under the grant.
Regarding the COMESA Innovation Award, Ms Kibiru informed the delegates that prize money given to the winning innovators was instrumental in providing seed capital for commercialization of innovations. She cited the 2015 award winner, who was featured in the Africa Forbes under 30 List, 2019 in the technology category as one of the success stories.
The knowledge sharing forum was opened by Dr. Patrick Gomes, the Secretary General of ACP Group who underscored the role of the ACP Secretariat in building and sharing knowledge across the TradeCom II Programme.
He noted: “Uncertainties in the multilateral trade system demand solid knowledge and stronger capacities to innovate and enhance knowledge on global trade issues and to deal with the difficulties emerging from the demographic dividends, such as the youth who leave their countries in search of better opportunities.”
The Forum coincided with the 8th Meeting of the TradeCom II Steering Committee. At the meeting, COMESA highlighted activities undertaken during the period July-December 2019 including the Sixth Annual Research Forum on the theme “Promoting intra-COMESA Trade through Innovation,” the COMESA Innovation Awards and the review and mounting of teaching modules for the Master’s Degree programme on the digital platform. The meeting called on COMESA to fast track commencement of the Master’s Degree programme to ensure that the scholarships are utilized before the end of the Grant.
The forum was attended by among others, representatives of the European Commission, ACP Group, United Nations Commission for Africa (UNECA), Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa-The Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (TRAPCA-ESAMI), OECS, international organizations and ACP beneficiary countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Guyana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.