COMESA: A force for good.

Author:Kapwepwe, Chileshe Mpundu
Position:Focus on COMESA - Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa--COMESA--provides a framework for peace and prosperity for its member states. COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, describes how her organisation is fostering integration both regionally and across the continent and details its work in creating an internationally competitive investment environment.

COMESA is the foremost building block for continental integration. First, it is part and a driver of the African Union, the African Economic Community and the Tripartite COMESAEAC-SADC area. Second, it is the largest of the eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) recognised by the African Union. It brings together 21 member states that are at various stages of economic development, with a total population of over 550m people and a combined GDP of over US$768bn (2017).

It is also the REC that integrates most of the countries of the Great Lakes region, covering Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, with significant need for enhanced cross-border economic activities.

Our policy agenda is part of the continental integration policy agenda, in the specific area of trade, investments and economic integration. Thus, our objectives are aligned with pan-African initiatives such as the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

COMESA is a force for good. It provides a framework for coming together to tackle development challenges to achieve peace and prosperity in our region. This is in addition to transforming the region into an internationally competitive investment area, which allows free movement of capital, labour, goods, and services across borders of COMESA member-states, and thereby facilitating sustainable growth of private domestic and foreign investment.

Power and influence

With its 21 member states making up a third of the continent, COMESA has power and influence in Africa and the world at large. Currently, we have the most comprehensive trade and transit policies in the continent.

These include, but are not limited to: Uniform Road User Charges, COMESA Carrier License, Harmonised Axle Load Limits and Vehicle Dimensions, COMESA Custom Bond Guarantee Scheme, Automated System of Custom Data Management (ASYCUDA) and EUROTRACE, COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVFTS), Web-based Transit Data Transfer Module and a Simplified Trade...

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