Programme Activities: Cross Cutting Programmes

COMESA Statistical Development

The COMESA Treaty provides the policy context for the development of statistics in the COMESA region. The Treaty envisages a four-pronged strategy for the development of statistics namely;

a) A Common Market Information System – This was to be established for purposes of reviewing the functioning and development of the Common Market. Issues to be handled included; data flows to the Secretariat, improvement of data collection by Member States, analysis of statistical information and timely dissemination.
b) Cooperation in Statistical Development – This recognizes the importance of harmonized statistics at the regional and international level, exchange of skills among Member States, cooperation in methodological issues, data dissemination policies and the adoption of the Addis Ababa Plan of Action for Statistical Development in Africa.
c) Comprehensive Information System – This was to look at the development of a trade information network that reduces information asymmetries on trade opportunities
in the region.
d) Depository Library – In addition to documents and printed material, databases are envisaged as important for the development of the Comprehensive Information System.

Gender and Social Affairs

The Secretariat has a fully-fledged Gender and Social Affairs Division since 2009 to enhance its gender mainstreaming support to Member States and Secretariat, Advocacy on Gender Equality, Women Empowerment and Social Development. The first COMESA regional Gender Policy, which was developed and adopted by the COMESA Heads of State and Government at its Seventh Summit in May 2002 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and revised in 2015. The Gender Policy provides measures on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in policy
and practice in all sectors.

  • Women Economic Empowerment Fund

The idea for the establishment of the COMESA Women Economic Empowerment Fund (WEEF) was conceived at the COMESA First Ladies Round Table Meeting in Djibouti in 2006. It was endorsed during the Heads of State and Government Summit in Kinshasa, DRC in February 2014. The WEEF initial base fund was US Dollar 73.43 million

  • COMESA Social Charter

The COMESA Social Charter was endorsed by Heads of States and Government in Kinshasa in February 2014. The Charter contains fundamental Social Rights that ensures that the social dimension of regional development is not neglected in the work of COMESA for the realization of the full regional integration aimed at improved living standards of women, men, youth and children.

  • COMESA Youth Programme

The COMESA Youth Programme was adopted in 2015 by the Authority of Heads of State and Government. The goal of the Youth Programme is to empower young people in the COMESA region by promoting the creation of decent and productive work opportunities for youth in the private sector, and by enhancing youth’s political participation, civic engagement and active involvement in the regional integration process.

  • 50 Million African Women Speak Project.

In September 2016, COMESA secretariat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the two RECs namely EAC and ECOWAS to jointly implement the 50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform Project. This followed the approval of USD 12.4 million grant for the project called “50 million African Women Speak” by the AfDB. The project is aimed at creating a networking platform dedicated to African women entrepreneurs. The grant will be spread between the COMESA, the EAC and ECOWAS.

The project is a digital/virtual marketplace intended to connect businesswomen and encourage peer-to-peer learning, mentoring, and information and knowledge sharing. The platform will cover 36 countries and will be accessible on mobile phones and shall also enable women to access business training, mentorship, financial services and locally relevant business information, while building their own networks of contacts. The project is an innovative social media platform to enable women to start, grow and scale their business through the dynamic exchange of ideas. This project is being implemented and will take three years starting from 2017.

COMESA Knowledge and Information Resources

 COMESA Resource Centre was established in 1992 under Article 142 of the COMESA Treaty with the following Mandate: “Member States agree to recognize the status of the Library situated at the Secretariat as the official depository Library of the Common Market for storage of all documents; regulations, public notices, databases and other documents with regard to national development plans, official gazettes, Central Bank annuals, periodic reports and other documents as may be determined and notified by the Library from time to time, with respect to member states.”

The Centre has a comprehensive collection of both printed and electronic information resources, all enhancing the documentation of the history of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

Currently the Resource Centre accommodates COMESA Programmes documentation, Publications from Member States, WTO references, subscribed online research databases, subject journals and magazines, general referencing and information referral services. It is designed to facilitate all citizens of the member states access to information and information resources so collected and documented.

Immigration and Free Movement of Persons

 COMESA Protocol on the Gradual Relaxation and Eventual Elimination of Visa Requirements

 The Protocol relating to the Gradual Relaxation and Eventual Elimination of Visa Requirements within COMESA (the Visa Protocol) was adopted and signed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government as far back as 1984.

The liberalization of the movement of persons is intended to facilitate particularly the movement of business persons within COMESA. The protocol is premised on two key elements; a ninety-day visa free regime and access to visa on arrival. Countries like Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Eswatini, , Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are to a large extent implementing the Protocol; providing ninety-day visa access and access to visa on arrival to at least half of the COMESA Member states. Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles have totally waived visa requirements to all COMESA citizens. In 2013, Zambia being the seat of the COMESA Secretariat, issued a circular waiving visas and visa fees for all COMESA citizens on official business.

The Visa Protocol recognizes that two or more Member States can maintain existing bilateral or multilateral arrangements (or enter into new ones) among themselves in respect of free movement of persons which provide for more favourable treatment for their nationals than are provided for in the protocol. These measures are encouraged, and this is already the case for the East African Community and various bilateral agreements.

COMESA Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services, the Right of Establishment and Residence

 The COMESA Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services, the Right of Establishment and Residence was adopted in 2001 by the COMESA Authority of Heads and States and is in the process of being signed and ratified. The Free Movement Protocol was developed with the vision towards the operationalization of the COMESA Common Market and its objective is to remove all restrictions to the free movement of persons, labour, and services and provide for the right of establishment and right of residence.

The implementation of the Protocol is in the following five stages:

Stage I: Part II – Articles 3 to 8 

Objective:          Gradual  removal  of  visa  requirements  and  co- operation in the prevention and the fight against crime.

Period:              Being implemented.

Stage II: Part III – Article 9

 Objective:          Enhancing movement of skilled labour. Period: Progressively implemented since 2004.

Stage III: Part IV – Article 10

Objective:         Movement of services. Stage IV: Part V – Article 11

Objective:         Right of Establishment.

Stage V: Part VI – Article 12

 Objective:         Right of Residence.

Period:              2014 (20 years from date of entry of COMESA Treaty).