COMESA Institutions Hold Awareness Forum in Mauritius

The first joint awareness Forum for the 12 COMESA institutions, was conducted in Port Louis, Mauritius on 15 – 16 April 2024, attended by over 120 local and international delegates.

The forum, conducted under the theme “Economic Integration for a Thriving COMESA Anchored on Green Investment, Value Addition, and Tourism,” aimed to enhance the visibility of the COMESA institutions and enable them to showcase their key programs and products. The event also aimed to demonstrate how Member States, such as Mauritius, can derive the highest benefits from their membership.

It was organised by the COMESA Secretariat in collaboration with the government of Mauritius and financially supported by the Trade and Development Bank (TDB), which is one of the 12 COMESA institutions.

The Forum follows a Council of Ministers’ Decision made in November 2023 that COMESA Institutions should organize awareness workshops in Member States to sensitize stakeholders about their activities and the opportunities available in the COMESA Region.

Opening the forum, Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, and International Trade for Mauritius Hon. Maneesh Gobin appreciated his country’s membership to COMESA. He said this has greatly contributed to the diversification and consolidation of the small economy for the benefit of the people.

“We need partners like COMESA and its institutions to venture into new, high growth potential sectors such as the blue economy, the digital economy, renewable energy, life sciences and property development among others,” Hon. Gobin said.

He noted that Mauritius has over the years moved from a monoculture economy based on sugar production to a successfully diversified economy with key sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and services. The country is now classified in the upper-middle income category with a Gross Domestic Product of USD 13bn and per capita GDP of over USD 11, 000.

He called for further diversification of the economy taking into consideration the Free Trade Agreements which are important as they open up markets and lead to trade reforms and trade facilitation adding, “We need to have a more visible presence in Africa, make our membership in COMESA and the African Union really count.”

Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe said the Forum was an opportunity for the public, private sector, and the ordinary people to learn more on why the COMESA institutions were established and how they benefit the people, hence the importance of rolling them out in different Member States.

She cited key programmes and products that some of the institutions are implementing for the benefit of Mauritius and other Member States, including USD$415 million Regional Infrastructure Finance Facility (RIFF) under COMESA. This programme has a USD$ 400 million credit facility for infrastructure projects covering renewable energy, ICT and Transport and USD$ 15 million.

Under the renewable energy project, Mauritius intends to reduce carbon emissions by 30%, phase out the use of coal to produce energy and to produce 35% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030.

TDB President and Group Chairman, Mr Tadesse Admassu encouraged the participants to take advantage of the presence of the different heads of COMESA institutions to get informed about their operations. He added that the institutions are meant to help the Member States and the region develop and hence the need to interact with stakeholders for the benefit of both parties.

In attendance are the following Chief Executive Officers and institutions:  Mr Manuel Moses, Africa Trade and Investment Development Insurance Agency; Mr Teddy Soobramanien, COMESA Business Council; Ms Jedidah Ndebele, COMESA Clearing House; Dr Lucas Njoroge, COMESA Monetary Institute; Dr.  Mohamedain Seif Elnasr, Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa; Mr Nicholas Mudungwe, Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute; Mr Chikakula Miti, COMESA Federation of Women in Business and Dr John Mukuka, Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Other representatives were Mr Boniface Makongo, Director of Competition, COMESA Competition Commission, Mr Ronald Kasapatu representing ZEP-RE, and Mr Mahmoud Mahgoub from the COMESA Regional Investment Agency.