African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI)

 The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) was established in 2000. The initial group of participating countries was: Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Both country and corporate membership has since increased to 14 and nine respectively.

The main objective of the ATI is to provide political risk cover to companies, investors, and lenders interested in doing business in Africa. Membership to the ATI is open to all African Union Member States. The agency is supported by the World Bank, which provides low interest loans to participating Member States.

The most important benefit of a regional insurance scheme is its potential to deal with the perception of high levels of risk in doing business in Africa as a region. Many financial institutions and business enterprises associate political risk to the region as a whole and never get to the stage of attempting to distinguish different levels of political risk between individual countries. This perception of high regional political risk deters financial institutions and business enterprises from establishing a presence in the region.

ATI’s current range of insurance products includes:

  • Trade Political Risk Insurance
  • Comprehensive Trade Political Risk
  • Foreign Direct Investment Insurance
  • Project Loan Cover
  • Mobile Assets Cover
  • Unfair Calling of Bonds and Standby Letters of Credit
  • Credit Insurance Cover

COMESA Clearing House 

The COMESA Clearing House (CCH) was established in accordance with Article 73 of the COMESA Treaty to facilitate the settlement of trade and services payments amongst Member States. It enables Member States to use local currencies in their intra-COMESA trade. Although the Clearing House was highly utilized in the 1980s and early 1990s when most Member States imposed strict exchange controls, it is being restructured to enable real time gross settlement payments in the new liberalized market setting. Subsequently the Clearing House introduced the Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS) which was designed to allow Member States to transfer funds more efficiently and effectively within the region. The aim of the payment system is to stimulate economic growth through increased intra-regional trade and a capacity to enable importers and exporters to settle and receive payment for goods and services through an efficient and cost-effective platform. The COMESA Clearing House is based in Zimbabwe.

COMESA Competition Commission 

The COMESA Competition Commission commenced its operations on the 14th of January 2013 and is a regional body corporate established under Article 6 of the COMESA Competition Regulations. In order to ensure fair competition and transparency among economic operators in the region, COMESA enacted the regional competition law and policy to harmonize existing national competition policies to avoid contradictions and provide a consistent regional economic environment. The Regulations were promulgated in 2004 pursuant to Article 55 of the Treaty establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (“the Treaty”). The Commission is responsible, among other things, for promoting competition and enhancing the welfare of consumers in the Common Market. The main functions of the Commission are to prohibit, monitor and investigate anti- competitive business practices, control mergers and other forms of acquisitions in the Common Market and mediate disputes between the Member States concerning anti-competitive conduct.

The COMESA Competition Commission is the first regional competition authority in Africa and the second in the world, after the European Competition Authority. It is charged with the enforcement of the regulations. The introduction of the regulations created a ‘One Stop Shop’ for the assessment of cross border transactions thereby reducing the burden and cost of doing business in the region, given that such transactions no longer need to be examined in each Member State. The COMESA regime also provides the only and most extensive network of national competition authorities in Africa. The Commission, in its enforcement of the regulations, enjoys international legal personality in the territory of each Member State and the legal capacity required for the performance of its functions under the Treaty.

The Commission also plays an advocacy role in handling complaints relating to anti-competitive business practices and other unfair business practices; and has established a ‘Fast-Track’ platform to deal with day-to-day complaints. The rate of mergers and acquisitions taking place in all the COMESA Member States is an indication of the attractiveness of investing in the Common Market. This is so because mergers now represent the most favoured method for investing in Africa. The Competition Commission is in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (Formerly COMESA Leather and Leather Products Institute)

 The Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (ALLPI) was established in 1990 as the Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI). It was rebranded in 2017 as ALLPI to enable it support activities towards strengthening of the leather value chain across the continent in a seamless and cost-effective manner. The institute has prepared several programmes and projects in areas such as human resource and institutional development, trade and investment in the leather and leather products’ sector. LLPI has helped a number of entrepreneurs with preparation of investment feasibility studies. It has also designed and executed several projects to help Member States develop their respective leather sector. The LLPI also conducts training programmes in leather footwear technology and pattern making for its Member States’ small and medium scale entrepreneurs. ALLPI is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

COMESA Monetary Institute 

The COMESA Monetary Institute was established in 2011 to undertake all technical activities that are needed to enhance the COMESA Monetary  Cooperation  Programme.  Since  its  establishment,  the institute has undertaken capacity building and research activities related to improving macroeconomic management and financial stability in the region. More specifically, the institute focuses on the implementation of the COMESA Multilateral Fiscal Surveillance Framework. The main emphasis of this intervention is to ensure the viability and sustainability of the COMESA monetary integration agenda and make the region a zone of macroeconomic stability.

The other is the COMESA Financial System Development and Stability Plan; the main objective of this intervention is to achieve Regional Financial Integration (RFI). The RFI facilitates financing of larger real transactions among member countries of the region. RFI is thus a complementary process to trade and services integration among member countries. It should be noted that trade integration would be facilitated and accelerated if the financial sectors of member countries are well developed and integrated.

COMESA Regional Investment Agency 

The COMESA Authority 1998 declared COMESA to be a “Common Investment Area and it was further decided to establish a Regional Investment Agency, which is tasked with implementing the COMESA Common Investment Area (CCIA). The COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA) was launched in 2006 with the objective of making COMESA one of the major destinations for regional and international investors while simultaneously enhancing  national  investment. RIA undertakes activities in investment promotion, facilitation and advocacy.

The establishment of a CCIA is particularly useful, as national markets in most Member States are too small to attract investment on their own. Regional markets attract more investment as they have more consumers than national markets and hence more purchasing power. Furthermore, multi-nationals, fund managers and other investors now give preference to regional, rather than national markets in making decisions on where to invest.

An Investment Framework Agreement was adopted by the Twelfth Summit of the COMESA Authority in 2007, which will form the basis of investment laws and policies in the region. Some of the benefits that the ‘COMESA investor and other foreign investors will receive under the Agreement are national and most favoured nation treatment. They will have access to international arbitration and their investments will be guaranteed against expropriation and nationalization.

The COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA) is in Cairo, Egypt.

Federation of National Associations of Women in Business (FEMCOM) 

The Federation of National Associations of Women in Business, FEMCOM, was established in 1993. Its mandate or charter is derived from article 155 of the COMESA Treaty. FEMCOM was founded on the premise that regional economic integration cannot be seen to have succeeded if it did not involve the full and equal participation of women in business. The core mission of FEMCOM is to develop women entrepreneurship in the COMESA region through programmes that promote, encourage and serve the needs of women and their businesses, working in smart collaboration with relevant partners. The FEMCOM Secretariat is in Lilongwe, Malawi.

PTA Reinsurance Company (ZEP-RE) 

The PTA Reinsurance Company (ZEP-RE) was established by an Agreement of Heads of State and Government of the COMESA region on 21st November 1990 in Mbabane, Swaziland (now Eswatini). The company commenced was officially launched in 1992 and commenced operations on 1 January 1993 with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The PTA Reinsurance Company is tasked with the responsibility of promoting trade, development and integration in the insurance and re- insurance sector.

ZEP-RE is further mandated to: transact reinsurance business through Treaty and facultative cessions in respect of all or some classes of insurance inside as well as outside the sub-region; create and administer pools for various risks for the account and to the interest of the sub-region’s insurance and reinsurance markets; facilitate the training of insurance and reinsurance industry personnel in the Sub- Region; provide technical assistance to the insurance and reinsurance institutions of the sub-region; invest its funds in the sub-region in a manner that promotes economic development, provided the company may invest outside the sub-region to meet its operational and/or technical requirements; and Promote contacts and business co- operation among national insurance and reinsurance institutions in the sub-region.

Besides operating in several COMESA countries, ZEP-RE also serves many non-COMESA Member States such as Morocco, and Algeria in North Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Senegal in West Africa, Mozambique in Southern Africa, and Tanzania in East Africa. The Global Credit Rating (GCR) rates the company AA for local/national and BBB- for international Business. The Company’s Headquarters is in Nairobi, Kenya.

Trade and Development Bank (formerly PTA Bank)

 The Trade and Development Bank for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA Bank) was established as an autonomous specialized institution by the PTA Bank Charter on 6 November 1985, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 9 of the COMESA Treaty. The Bank’s broad objectives are to provide financial and technical assistance and promote social and economic development and trade among Member States, in accordance with the provisions of the COMESA Treaty. The PTA Bank’s mandate is to finance and foster trade, socio-economic development and regional economic integration. Its Charter also provides for the establishment and administration of special purpose funds in the region. The Bank implements its mandate by complementing the activities of national development agencies of Member States and co- operating with other institutions and organizations, public and private, national and international, which are interested in the economic and social development of the Member States.

The Bank’s shareholders include African States in COMESA, EAC and SADC, institutional investors such as the African Development Bank, COMESA Reinsurance Company ZEP-RE, Africa-Re, the National Pension Fund of Mauritius, Mauritian Eagle Insurance Company, Seychelles Pension Fund, Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) and Banco Nacional de Investemento (BNI) of Mozambique and two other non-regional members, namely China and Paritetbank (Belarus).

 COMESA Court of Justice 

The COMESA Court of Justice is the judicial organ of COMESA. The Court provides certainty that COMESA is a rules-based institution, with rules that can be enforced through a court of law.

The Court of Justice, which has its permanent seat in Khartoum, Sudan, was formally brought into being at the COMESA Heads of State summit in June 1998 at which the initial seven Judges of the Court were appointed. The Judges all hold high judicial office in their own countries. In 2004 the Treaty was amended to expand the Court into two Divisions. The lower Division, known as the Court of First Instance has seven judges. The upper Division of the Court, which has five Judges, is called the Appellate Division.

The Court of Justice adjudicates and arbitrates on, among other matters, unfair trade practices, interpretation of Treaty (Protocols and other legislative acts) and ensures that Member States uniformly implement and comply with agreed decisions. Decisions of the Court on the interpretation of the provisions of the COMESA Treaty have precedence over decisions of national courts and are binding on all COMESA Member States.


Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) 

ACTESA is a specialized agency of COMESA formed to address staple food production and marketing in order to increase market access; food production; food productivity and removal food trade barriers. ACTESA implements programmes that enhance national and regional staple food trade and seek to attract agricultural growth and accelerate broad-based poverty reduction in the Eastern and Southern Africa sub-region. It further channels policies between the public and private sectors, acting as an information hub, facilitating and coordinating activities by partners at national and regional level including mobilization of resources focusing on staple food development.

COMESA Business Council 

The COMESA Business Council (CBC) is a business member organization, and a private sector institution of COMESA. Established in 2005, under the Treaty CBC is defined as a consultative committee for the business community at the policy organs level. CBC is the recognized regional apex body of the Private Sector and Business Community in the COMESA region. Nine members of the Board of Directors who are Presidents of their respective National Apex Business Associations in COMESA Member States constitutionally manage CBC.

The CBC began its operations as a Secretariat in 2010. It is structured on key focus areas of private sector representation through facilitation of business interests from apex and sectorial business association membership to all levels of policy formulation and decision making in the region, and private sector development in growth sectors that contribute to the overall competitiveness of businesses in regional and global markets.

The key objectives of the CBC are to enforce strategic advocacy platforms for the private sector in at least 70 percent of the priority sectors within COMESA region; ensure effective representation of private sector interests in COMESA decision making processes in at least three priority sectors per year; provide timely and strategic business services to regional and international stakeholders on the business environment in the region; to ensure 90 percent of private sector inclusiveness in the regional integration agenda; and ensure that the CBC is a fully membership led and driven Institution by 2018.