High Turnout for the Inaugural COMESA Investment Forum in Tunisia

The COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA) working with the Government of Tunisia and funding from the European Union 11th Development Fund (EDF11) organised a successful first ever COMESA Investment Forum (CIF 2024) which had participation from national investment agencies from all 21 COMESA Member States.

More than 350 prominent figures, including ministers, decision-makers, businesspeople, investors, representatives from the Tunisian private sector were joined by officials from investment agencies and authorities from the 21 states.

Several international and African organisations, including the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also attended.

The event was officially opened by Tunisia’s Secretary of State for Small and Medium Enterprises at the Ministry of Economy and Planning, Samir Abdel Hafeez who expressed Tunisia’s eagerness to host the forum as it contributed to the creation of a platform to be used for exchanging vital information and contacts for key actors in the business world.

He also expressed hope for Africa to play a larger role on the regional and global stage through such forums and contribute to solving global crises. “These aspirations are legitimate and achievable given the rich natural resources of the continent through enhancing joint cooperation, whether government or with the private sector as we are doing here,” Minister Hafeez said.

Speaking on behalf of COMESA Secretariat, Amb. Dr Mohamed Kadah thanked Tunisia for hoisting the CIF 2024 saying the event was part of the organisation’s key goals of promoting regional integration among member States and enhancing investment in Africa and the COMESA region.

He noted that despite a 30% decrease in the number of projects since 2019, capital investment in Africa was more than 2.5 times higher in 2022 compared to 2019. The number of announced Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects in Africa increased from 517 in 2021 to 734 projects in 2022. FDI into the COMESA region jumped by about 52% in 2022 to USD23bn compared to 2020 and by 43% in 2021.

“COMESA aims to create a favourable and competitive business environment, increase international and local investment flows, enhance participation in global value chains and at the same time address current challenges including geopolitical tensions, rising commodity prices and debt pressures other others,” Dr Kadah said.

Head of the Economic Section at the EU Office in Tunis, Marco Stella expressed pride in the partnership with COMESA through numerous programmes funded by the EU. These include the first ever CIF 2024 and he affirmed the EU’s continued support to enable the region access other markets, implement programmes to enhance competitiveness and build capacities to achieve set targets.

President of the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicraft (UTICA) Samir Majoul highlighted the significant interest in investment opportunities available in COMESA countries. He stressed that cooperation with COMESA countries can enhance economic growth and diversify Tunisia’s exports.

He said Tunisia was keen for more partnerships with other COMESA countries, given the region’s multiple competitive advantages, a conducive investment and economic partnership climate, its strategic location as a gateway between Europe and Africa. He cited other advantages as a competitive tax system, skilled labour and a multilingual workforce.