Nairobi, Monday, June 17, 2019: The COMESA region has experienced a robust annual real GDP growth of close to 6.5%, but this has not led to economic transformation of the region.
According to Principal Secretary in charge of Industry in Kenya, Ms. Betty Maina, this disparity has resulted from preoccupation with low value-added products and trading in primary products and natural resources.
Addressing delegates at the joint opening of COMESA Technical Meetings on industry on one hand and infrastructure (transport, ICT and energy) Mrs Maina said the affected products are mainly those with few forward and backward linkages to the rest of the economy.
She cited the production of hydrocarbon and minerals, both capital and technology intensive as some of those that contribute to jobless growth in the region.
“Despite regional integration being of special importance in Africa, COMESA Member States still trade over 90 per cent with other parts of the world due to lack of industrial diversification and products` complementarity among themselves,” she said.
Consequently, the low level of intra-COMESA trade, which has not broken the 10% threshold of total exports over the years, is a reflection of a low level of industrialization, she said noting that this limits the level of intra –and inter-industry trade and the extent of quality job creation needed to reduce poverty.
The implementation of the COMESA Industrial Strategy, which was adopted by the Ministers of Industry in 2015, provides the pathway towards industrialization of Member States by helping Member States identify their comparative advantages in developing key industries through value addition.
The meeting on industry, which is the third in a series, will therefore review the Draft Action Plan of the implementation on the COMESA Industrial Strategy and review of the COMESA Regional Guidelines on the Local Content Policy.
The meetings are: The 11th Joint COMESA Technical Committee on Infrastructure (Transport, ICT and Energy) and the 3rd COMESA Technical Committee on Industry.
The 11th Technical committee on infrastructure will consider the progress made in the implementation of the infrastructure soft and physical projects in transport, ICT and energy sub-sectors
Speaking at the same forum, the Assistant Secretary General of COMESA Dr Kipyego Cheluget said energy costs in the region was a major impediment to the expansion of the manufacturing sector.
The total installed capacity for electric power in the 21 COMESA countries is about 90,800 megawatts compared to Brazil with over 150,000 megawatts.
“We are however beginning to see significant improvements in the generation capacity with the expected coming on-stream major power generation projects in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia,” he said adding that the construction of Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya interconnector and the Ethiopia-Kenya interconnector will facilitate power trade between the southern and the northern power pools.
The PS for trade in Kenya Dr Chris Kiptoo said the joint hosting of meetings of experts in industry, transport, ICT, and energy was a good initiative in addressing interrelated issues that contribute to the growth of regional trade.
The technical meetings end on Wednesday to pave way to respective ministerial meetings that will consider the reports and make decisions on their recommendations.