COMESA Secretariat has released a schedule of its annual policy organs meetings which will be conducted between now and the end of the year. For the first time in history, the meetings will be virtual as possibilities of conducting them physically fade in the midst of COVID-19.
The meetings bring together government officials at four levels: technical experts, accounting officers comprising of Permanent/ Principal Secretaries, Ministers and the Heads of State Summit. The Summit which was earlier scheduled to be hosted in Egypt will take place early next year.
The theme for the meetings is ‘COMESA: Towards Digital Economic Integration’. The Secretariat has maintained last year’s theme in order to refocus attention on the need to harness the potential of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in addressing the existential challenges of regional integration especially with the advent of the Corona virus pandemic.
The impact of COVID-19 on regional integration and in particular the movement of goods and services across the region will constitute key discussion points for all the meetings as it will influence decisions on the way forward towards the implementation of programmes in Member States.
The first policy organ to meet will be the 40th Intergovernmental Committee on 23-24 November and the 40th Council of Ministers meeting on 26-27 November 2020. Prior to these, a series of technical and sectoral ministerial meetings have been lined up from mid-September leading up to the policy organs.
They include the 36th Trade and Customs Committee (27- 29 October) the 11th Meeting of the COMESA Ministers responsible for Gender and Women’s Affairs (1-2 October), the 12th Joint Meeting of the Committee on Transport, and communications, Energy and Information Technology & 12th Infrastructure Ministers Meeting (20 – 23 October), the Ministerial Meeting of the COMESA Fund Committee (9 November), the 23rd Meeting Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General (09 November) and the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (11-12 November)
Recommendations of the technical committee will be tabled before the Council of Ministers for decision making and those from the Sectoral ministerial committees endorsed. to all the Member States and will also constitute the work programme for the COMESA Secretariat in the coming year and beyond.
Participants to the policy organs meeting will include all COMESA institutions and specialized agencies, development partners that support COMESA programmes such as the European Union, The World Bank, USAID among others.