Lusaka, Friday, 29 November 2019: The 40th COMESA Council of Ministers meeting took place in Lusaka on Friday 29th November marking the culmination of one week of activities to commemorate the organization’s Silver Jubilee.
Ministers responsible for Trade, Commerce and Industry and Permanent/Principal Secretaries led the delegations to the annual meeting, whose primary objective was to review progress made in regional integration, approve the work programs and budgets for 2020.
Addressing the Ministers during the opening of the meeting, Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe urged Member States to implement the decisions and programmes agreed upon during the meetings so as to deepen regional integration.
“The only reason we exist as an organization is to improve the living conditions of our people,” she said noting that the 25 years COMESA Anniversary had provided an opportunity for reflection and focus on the future priorities.
She cited the following among the latest accomplishments of the regional bloc: the establishment of the COMESA Virtual University of regional integration, a first in Africa; the rolling out of the Digital Free Trade Area; the resolution of 98% of all non-tariff barriers reported; the commitment by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to operationalize the COMESA Community Levy and the launch of the 50 Million African Women Speak Programme among others.
“My foremost priority is to see a COMESA that is well-resourced, well managed and fit for purpose,” she said
In a statement delivered by the Zambia Minister of National Development Mr. Emmanuel Chiteme, Zambia’s Vice President Mrs. Inonge Wina observed that the approach taken by COMESA to promote integration was working well.
“We need to continue providing an enabling environment for market integration, infrastructure development and industrialization, with special attention to small and medium enterprises development,” the Vice President said.
“In addition to this, the regional economic community must focus on regional industrial clusters, modernizing institutional and regulatory policies and capacity development as well as resource mobilization.”
The Ministerial meeting ended on Saturday after approving the 2020 work programme and budget for the Secretariat and its institutions.