First-Ever COMESA Week Celebrated in Madagascar

The inaugural COMESA Week was held in Madagascar from June 24 to June 29, 2024, highlighting COMESA’s 30 years of impact. The event featured a variety of publicity and stakeholder engagement forums, including trade fairs and a business conference.

Activities throughout the week included multi-stakeholder dialogues focusing on women and youth, a mini expo for small-scale entrepreneurs in Antananarivo, a national media sensitization forum on regional integration, engagements with university students at the University of Antananarivo, and several bilateral meetings between high-level government officials from Madagascar and the COMESA Executive.

The COMESA Secretariat organized the event in collaboration with the Government of Madagascar, with financial support from the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund. It also marked the launch of activities to commemorate the COMESA’s 30th anniversary.

The climax of the week was the 5th COMESA Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB) Trade Fair and Business Conference, held on June 28 and 29, 2024. This event brought together national chapters of COMFWB from COMESA Member States and women entrepreneurs from Madagascar and across the region. Various international and local corporations supported these events.

The First Lady of Madagascar, Her Excellency Mialy Rajoelina, graced the opening of the trade fair, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Rasata Rafaravavitafika, officially launched the COMESA Week activities.

In her address at the opening ceremony, the Minister expressed pride in Madagascar hosting the first COMESA Week.

“It is a great pride for my country and for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that we are inaugurating this important and useful event, which is once again a concrete expression of regional cooperation and integration within COMESA,” she said.

She added, “Madagascar remains a committed member of COMESA, and we are working to ensure that the country takes full advantage of regional integration by actively participating in the different programs and activities that will enhance trade and development for our people.”

Madagascar benefits from several sectoral programs covering trade facilitation, the pharmaceutical sector, air transport, the environment, competitiveness, market access, energy, agriculture, and statistics. Its annual exports to the COMESA region range between $50 million to $100 million.

Under the Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM), funded by the European Union through COMESA, the country received nearly 2.6 million euros in direct funding for technical cooperation, much of which has benefited the private sector by equipping production units and supporting access to the African market.

Dr. Dev Haman, Assistant Secretary General for Administration and Finance at the COMESA Secretariat, commended Madagascar for hosting the first-ever COMESA Week and kicking off the celebration of 30 years of existence.

Noting Madagascar’s low share of intra-COMESA trade, he outlined various sectors where the country holds immense potential.

“The current intra-COMESA trade is just $14 billion, but there is potentially over $100 billion worth of trade that Madagascar and other Member States should take advantage of and trade more,” he stressed.

He highlighted agriculture and value addition as areas where the country could optimize production.