Set for the Summit as ministerial meetings end

Tuesday, November 16, 2021: The 17th Meeting of the COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) took place Tuesday, 16 November 2021, ahead of the 21st COMESA Heads of State and Government Summit set for Tuesday, 23 November 2021 in Cairo, Egypt. The MoFA is part of the ministerial meetings whose priority issues will be presented to the Summit alongside that of the Council of Ministers whose meeting took place on 9 November 2021.

The Summit comes three years since the last one conducted in Lusaka, Zambia, in July 2018 and for the first time, it will be conducted in a hybrid format. A few Heads of State are expected to attend the Summit physically in Egypt, while others will participate remotely through teleconference.

Coming at a time when the aftermath the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the region, the leaders are expected to rally towards economic recovery and building country and regional resilience against future shocks. The development and use of digital tools to drive this process was identified during the ministerial meetings, as the key enabler towards economic recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adoption of the COMESA Digital Free Trade Area initiative (DFTA) is expected to gain traction after this summit. The DFTA involves use of digital tools as opposed to physical documents mainly used in cross border trade. Under this initiative, COMESA has developed digital tools to enhance digital transformation including e-trade, e-logistics and e-legislation.

At the Summit, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt will take over from President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar as the chair of the COMESA Heads of State and Government, officially referred to as The Authority. Henceforth, for the next one year,  Egyptian government will chair all COMESA policy organs meetings.