Category Archives: COMESA

Horticultural Exports Rise in Zimbabwe – as the Benefits of COMESA Fruit Fly Surveillance Project unfolds

Export of horticultural products in Zimbabwe has gone up from USD 23,333 in 2016 to USD 87 996 in 2018 to international Markets but mostly European Union. This improvement is attributed to the implementation of The Fruit Fly surveillance programmes that began in Zimbabwe in July 2012 with the assistance of a project grant from COMESA.

The programme was meant to improve on the dwindling exports of horticultural products to the international markets hence affecting revenue collection for the country. The project received funds from the European Union under the COMESA Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM).

The funds assisted the Government of Zimbabwe as well as individual commercial farmers set up a fruit fly trapping network for early warning against fruit fly with particular focus on B. dorsalis. The pest causes extensive damage to fruits and vegetables resulting in restrictions to marketing in international markets like the European Union.

Zimbabwe is one of the COMESA States with a high-risk potential for different Fruit fly species as it produces wide host range of fruits. These include apples, avocado, citrus, banana, coffee, guava, mango, peach as well as vegetables such as cucurbits, bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.

In 2015, Zimbabwe’s horticultural exports amounted to $72.1 million, with its main buyers being the European Union taking up a combined bulk of $57.5 million worth of produce, with the Netherlands ($32.6 million), the United Kingdom ($13.5 million), Germany ($5.3 million), France ($3.2 million) and Poland ($2.9 million), according to trade promotion agency ZimTrade.

It is estimated that out of the 1.9 million tonnes of mangoes produced annually in Africa, 30-35% (up to 760 000 tonnes) are destroyed by fruit flies. The estimated cost of fruit fly eradication programmes is on average.


Madagascar Set to Implement the 50 Million African Women Speak Project

Madagascar is set to implement the 50 Million African Women Speak (50MWS) project following the successful two-day stakeholders’ engagement held from 4 – 5 September 2018 in Antananarivo.

The COMESA delegation paid a courtesy call to the Minister of Trade and Consumption, Miss Yvette Sylla and to the Minister of Population, Social Protection and Promotion, Miss Naharimamy Lucien Irmah. Both Ministers expressed the government commitment and support towards the successful implementation of the project

The 50MWS is a three-year project funded by the African Development Bank. It is jointly implement-ed by three Regional Economic Communities (RECs): COMESA, East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community for Western African States (ECOWAS) in 38 countries.

Addressing delegates during the forum, Minister Naharimamy Lucien Irmah said the geographical location of Madagascar should not hinder the access of Malagasy entrepreneurs to COMESA mar-kets.

“Women are serious entrepreneurs in Madagascar be it in trading clothing articles, craft, essential oils, and agriculture, among others,” she said. “However, selling of their products remains a serious challenge. Since this project is technology based, we are expecting it to help them penetrate the COMESA market and reach out to a wider target.”

The COMESA Head of the Delegation, Mrs. Mekia Mohammed Redi outlined how the project will contribute to the empowerment of the Malagasy women through the provision of financial and non-financial information and services.

“The objective of the project is to empower women entrepreneurs by providing access to financial and non-financial information relevant to develop and grow their business. Therefore, the 50 Million African Women Speak, through the creation of a dynamic digital networking platform, will enable women entrepreneurs in Africa to connect with one

another in ways that will foster peer-to-peer learn-ing, mentoring and the sharing of information and knowledge within communities”.

She also added that the platform will provide information and available services on social and other matters relevant to women empowerment in general.

According to studies conducted separately by the African Development Bank and COMESA, the ap-propriate use of ICTs contributes towards reducing some of the gender-specific challenges affecting women entrepreneurs in Africa.

The government of Madagascar pledged to support the implementation of the project. Among the key milestones realized was the formulation of the country team that will drive the implementation of the project at the national level. The country Team is made up of representatives from the public sector, private sector, women associations and non-governmental organizations. The country team agreed that the project will be led and housed in the Ministry responsible for gender and women’s affairs. The national content developer will be responsible for gathering and developing relevant con-tent to be uploaded on the platform will also be working under the supervision of the Ministry respon-sible for gender.


98% of Regional Non-Tariff Barriers Resolved

A total of 199 out of 204 non-tariff barriers to regional trade that have been reported among the COMESA Member States since the establishment of the Tripartite NTB Online Reporting Mechanism in 2008, have been resolved. This represents a success rate of 97.5%.

That notwithstanding, a disturbing phenomenon is that reports of NTBs keep coming to the COMESA Secretariat and this frustrates the efforts to enhance intra-COMESA Trade, says the COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe.

In her speech at the opening of the 34th COMESA Trade and Customs Committee (TCM) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, the SG observed that though member States had, upon signing the COMESA Treaty agreed to abolish all non-tariff barriers to trade among themselves, new ones kept cropping up thus affecting intraregional trade.

“Most Member States have taken long to remove certain NTBs and to operationalize the COMESA Customs Union and the launch of the Common Market,” she said in the statement presented by the Assistant Secretary General Dr Kipyego Cheluget.

The SG appreciated the progress made in implementing regional programmes with substantial support from International Cooperating Partners. However, she noted that little progress has been achieved in domesticating trade facilitation instruments at national level as Member States took their time to ratify and implement them.

Since the establishment of the Free Trade Area in 2000, intra-COMESA exports have increased from US$1.5 billion to US$ 7.9 billion in 2017. The global COMESA exports stand at US$ 86 912.7 million while the share of intra-COMESA exports to COMESA global exports remains low at 9.1%.

The trade and customs committee meeting considered the reports of the 3rd Trade and Trade Facilitation Sub-Committee and the 4th Heads of Customs Sub-Committee that met earlier in the week. The meetings were attended by a record 21 Member States including Tunisia and Somalia which were admitted to COMESA on 18 July 2018.

High on the agenda of the TCM was the implementation of the COMESA Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA) which is being rolled out in Member States. The DFTA has three aspects: e-trade, e-logistics and e-legislation. E-trade will promote online commerce by providing a platform for traders in COMESA region to do business online. E-logistics targets improvement in transportation of goods from suppliers to customers, while e-legislation address the readiness of laws in Member States to cater for digital transactions.

Other key issues in regional integration that were discussed were reports by Member States that are not participating in the COMESA Free Trade Area, Non-Tariff Barriers in the COMESA Region, the Kenya Sugar Safeguard and updates on the Tripartite FTA Negotiations and the African Free Trade Africa Free Area.

Speaking at the same forum, the Principal Secretary, State Department of Trade in Kenya, Dr Chris Kiptoo, called for scaling up and sustaining awareness campaigns of the COMESA protocols and the intended benefit of regional integration.

“Ultimately trade and investment are spearheaded by the private sector and this is the audience we need to sensitize for them to have the utmost confidence in the opportunities

created by regional integration,” Dr Kiptoo said in a speech delivered by the Director of Administration Mr. Samson Wangusi.

Dr Kiptoo cited the COMESA Yellow Card, the COMESA Customs Document, the Simplified Trade Regime, Non-Tariff Barriers Regulations, the COMESA Fund, and the Regional Customs Transit Guarantee as some of the most successful trade facilitation instruments which stakeholders need to know about.


COMESA Deploys Election Observers to Zimbabwe

COMESA has deployed a short-term election observer mission to the harmonized elections in Zimbabwe set for 30 July 2018. The advance party of the COMESA delegation, arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe on Saturday July 21, 2018.

The mission will be led by Ambassador Ashraf Gamal Rashed (left), a member of the COMESA Committee of Elders from Egypt. He is expected to join the team on 25th July 2018.

The observer team comprises of representatives from several COMESA Member States’ and is supported by members of staff from the Secretariat.

The deployment of the mission follows an invitation by the Government of Zimbabwe to COMESA through the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

As part of its mission in Zimbabwe, the COMESA delegation will conduct pre-election observation which will include consultations with political parties, the ZEC, security agencies, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) the Media and other electoral stakeholders. The aim is to gather information on election-related issues and to assess election preparedness. The delegation will also engage with the Diplomatic Community as well as with other election observers on the ground in selected provinces.

In May this year, COMESA conducted a Pre-Election Assessment mission to enhance the understanding of the electoral process and state of preparedness by various stakeholders in Zimbabwe. The findings from that mission will be included into the detailed report that will be submitted to the ZEC and the Government within 90 days from the election date.

The overall, objective of the COMESA observer mission is to contribute to strengthening and consolidating the democratic processes in Zimbabwe.

COMESA, IOM, sign Co-Delegation Agreement on Cross Border Trade

COMESA, IOM, sign Co-Delegation Agreement on Cross Border Trade

COMESA and International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed a co-delegation Agreement on the implementation of the small scale cross border trade initiative in five border posts within the region.

The programme is part of a broader COMESA-European Union Delegation Agreement of 13.4 million euros signed in May 2018 to implement the COMESA Cross-Border Trade Initiative. Programme financed under the 11th European Development Fund.

COMESA, has subsequently Co-delegated some activities to the IOM and the International Trade Centre (ITC) for a total amount of four million euros to ensure effective implementation.

IOM regional Director Charles Kwenin and COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya signed the Agreement in Lusaka, Zambia

Under the Co-delegation Agreement, COMESA entrust the implementation of activities related to border management information system, performance based management schemes for border officials and immigration formalities and procedures for small scale traders to the IOM.

It will also co-delegate capacity building for the Cross-Border Trade Associations and similar associations (including business services and access to finance) to the ITC.

Mr Kwenin said his organization will support COMESA in the implementation of activities which will contribute to achieving the results in this project.

“The partnership between COMESA, IOM and ITC will capitalize the unique experiences and capacities of each organization,” he said. “IOM will draw on its expertise in migration and human mobility issues, while ITC will draw on customs and trade experience, particularly by working on training and capacity issues, He added.”

He stressed that the potential of trade facilitation can only be fully realized by addressing barriers to the human mobility of persons engaging in trade anchored within the three Integrated Border Management/ Coordinated Border Management pillars of inter, intra, and cross-border collaboration.

Mr Ngwenya said the Co-delegation Agreement in line with the Pillar Assessed Grant or Delegation Agreement (PaGoDA) for the Cross-Border Trade Initiative Programme and is also part and parcel of the COMESA regional agenda.

He stressed the importance of implementing the programme while taking into account traditional best practices like social and economic values that favour women, who he described as ‘traditionally good custodians of finances’ in order to build a sustainable programme.

The Secretary General implored IOM and the ITC together with the Secretariat to work towards removal of strict immigration rules and procedures as they perpetuate illegal migrants especially amongst men.

“One of the issue this programmes should implement is the free movement of persons especially small scale cross border traders as this will ease the movement of goods as well. You cannot have goods moving freely when the people carrying them are restricted,” Ngwenya added.

Working in collaboration with the relevant national government authorities in the COMESA region, Ngwenya said IOM together and COMESA Secretariat will ensure successful coordination and implementation of the programme.

Four targeted border posts are between Zambia on one hand and Malawi, Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Tanzania. These are Mwami/Mchinji, Chirundu, Kasumbalesa and Nakonde/Tunduma. The other is Moyale border point between Kenya and Ethiopia.


Djibouti Gets $110,000 Worth of ICT Equipment to Fight Financial Crimes

COMESA has handed over Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment

and analytical software worth over US$ 110,000 to the Djibouti Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The tools were procured through COMESA Regional Maritime Security (MASE) programme, which is funded by the European Union.

The equipment is intended to enhance the efficiency of the analytical work done by the FIU Unit as well as the quality of the intelligence disseminated to Law Enforcement Agencies and other relevant stakeholder in support of the country’s daily efforts to fight money laundering and financial crimes.

Receiving the equipment on behalf of the government, Central Bank of Djibouti Governor Mr. Ahmed Osman Ali said the fight against financial crime needs concerted efforts.

“This handover we are witnessing today is very important for Djibouti and it will greatly booster our efforts in tackling the different forms of financial crime in this region,” he said.

He commended COMESA and the EU for providing the equipment and added that the Central Bank is more than ready to use it effectively and achieve the desired results.

Apart from strengthening the IT capacity of its FIU, COMESA has also assisted Djibouti in translating its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) Laws into Arabic, an important step in the country’s endeavor to align its policies to international standards and become a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). Representative of COMESA Secretary General, Ms. Elizabeth Mutunga, said COMESA’s main concern is to strengthen the fight against money laundering, adding that piracy, or any other crime is motivated and propagated by money.

She said: “If the ability for criminals to access their illicit funds arising from criminal activities is made more difficult, then we can expect that the crime will also be reduced and hopefully eradicated.”

EU Resident Representative in Djibouti Ambassador Adam Kulach said the fight against money laundering in the region will only succeed if key institutions such as Central Banks are strengthened. He reiterated the EU’s commitment to support the

region and urged the Central Bank to put the equipment to good use.

Three other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are implementing the MASE programme addressing different components of maritime security and the fight against maritime crimes. The RECs are the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African Community (EAC) and the Indian Ocean Community (IOC).

COMESA component of the programme is implemented in partnership with Interpol, focusing on building capacity in the ESA-IO region to disrupt financial network of pirates and their financiers. COMESA strives to strengthen Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) chain, from improving the legal environment to strengthening the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.

Regional Energy Experts Meeting Gets Underway this Week

The Second Meeting of the Technical Steering Committee of the Project on Enhancement of a Sustainable Regional Energy Market in the Eastern Africa- Southern Africa-Indian Ocean (EA-SA- IO) Region takes place in Swakopmund, Namibia, 25 – 26 April 2018.

The project seeks to address market governance and regulatory related challenges affecting
the implementation of energy development projects in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and
Indian Ocean region. It is supported by a seven million euros fund provided under the 11th
European Development Fund (EDF) for a period of four years since the signing of the grant
delegation agreement with COMESA in May 2017.

The Technical Steering Committee meeting will review the status of implementation of the
first one year of the project, provide guidance to ensure attainment of the project’s objectives
and induct new members of the Project Management Team. The meeting brings together five Regional Economic Communities: The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) the East African Community (EAC,) Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Others are the Regional Association of Energy Regulators, Regional Power Pools,
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Centres and the representatives of the European
Union Delegations to the three sub-regions. The COMESA Regional Association of Energy
Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) coordinates the implementation of
the programme.

The programme has three results areas: the first is a regionally harmonized energy regulatory
framework adopted by regional and national regulatory institutions, with particular emphasis
on cross border issues to encourage investments in the region. The second is the enhancement of regulatory capacity of the National Regulatory Authorities and strengthening capacity of the Regional Associations (RAERESA, EREA and RERA) and Power Pools (EAPP and SAPP) to proactively influence developments in the energy sector. Thirdly, the enhancement of the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency strategy, policies and regulatory guidelines to attract investments in clean energy and build capacity in clean energy in the region as well as the domestication on a demand driven basis.

Rwanda to access €832,615 to Support Regional Integration Programmes

Rwanda is set to access additional financing of €832,615 for implementing regional integration programmes. This is part of the support provided to the country under the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF) funded from the 10th European Development Fund, Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM) programme. This follows the signing of the funding addendum by the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Hon. Claver Gatete, and the Secretary
General of COMESA, Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya Kigali, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Secretary General said the resources being committed today are the last available under the framework of the EU funded RISM programme. “This is why I am challenging us today to set aside counterpart funding from our national budgets to support regional integration programmes and ensure sustainability of the efforts put in place through CAF funding,” Mr. Ngwenya said. He said the funds will be used implement the adjustment programmes which aim to expand exports into COMESA and beyond, strengthen the local capacity at both institutional and small and medium enterprises level and implement some of the country’s commitments under COMESA.

Hon. Gatete appreciated the support to Rwanda noting that “The Grant will contribute towards regional integration efforts such as further reduction of non-tariff barriers as well as facilitate smooth cross border trade. COMESA is our valued partner in regional integration and we look forward to more partnerships.
Rwanda was awarded the funds by the COMESA Fund Ministerial Committee, held in Lusaka in December 2017. This followed a positive assessment of Rwanda’s achievements in its commitments on regional indicators under the programme. Among these are: the operationalization of a National Trade Policy Forum; removal of 13 Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) since 2011 and adoption of 253 Harmonized EAC standards since 2013 and the signing of a protocol with DR Congo establishing a Simplified Trade Regime between their small-scale traders. In addition, Rwanda has submitted a final schedule of commitment in four key priority services sectors and liberalized Air Transport in accordance with COMESA legal notice No.2 of 1999.

COMESA Virtual University Programme to Begin in Two Months

Admission of the pioneer students of the COMESA Virtual University will commence in May 2018 at the Kenyatta University in Kenya. The admission was planned to kick off in September 2017 but was delayed to allow the conclusion of administrative procedures of the university education regulatory authority in Kenya

Kenyatta University was selected to host the first Masters Degree program in regional integration during a consultative forum of the 22 collaborating universities from COMESA Member States. At the forum, it was agreed to commence a collaborative masters’ degree programme in regional integration in the medium term, with an objective of establishing a fully-fledged university in the long run.

The COMESA Virtual University Masters Degree is a multi-disciplinary program intended to bring together world-class academics, researchers and practitioners from leading institutions around the world to learning centres in participating universities through a virtual platform. The course is a professional course designed for government officials working in departments dealing with trade, integration and cooperation issues and students intending to work as trade officers, trade policy analysts, advisers, researchers and trade attaches.

It also targets the private sector trade practitioners and economic operators; journalists covering trade issues; chambers of commerce, manufacturer and consumer associations, diplomatic missions, development organizations dealing with trade and integration issues, among others. It is also suitable for middle level trade researchers and consultants.

The teaching modules for 30 courses have been developed with financial support from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF). The review process was done by academic experts across the world to ensure good quality of the material and knowledge to be passed to the students. To obtain the degree, students will be required to take and pass 10 core courses and five electives, and complete a dissertation and an internship, over a two-year period.
The program will provide a sound conceptual, policy and practical training on regional integration, but will also help extend access to research opportunities and higher education on regional integration within and outside the COMESA region. The program covers economics, trade, law, political economy, trade and finance, IT and innovation, among others.

Last week, a COMESA Secretariat team led by the Director of Trade and Customs, Dr Francis Mangeni met stakeholders in Kenya, among them, the State Department of International Trade, the Kenyan Commission of University Education and the Kenyatta University to fast-track the remaining steps towards kickstarting the first semester.
Dr Chris Kiptoo, the Principal Secretary in the State Department of International Trade pledged Kenya’s commitment in ensuring the implementation of the programme begins as planned.

The Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University, Prof Paul Wainaina confirmed its readiness to offer the unique masters programme. The University Senate approved the Programme in 2017 and submitted it to Kenya Commission of University Education (KCUE) for final approval in October 2017. It was confirmed that the KCUE had now accredited the programme and given Kenyatta University the go ahead to advertise for admission of students to commence learning in May 2018 when it next trimester begins.

“The Kenyatta University Digital School is also working round the clock to ensure that the first trimester modules are sunk into the tablets to be distributed to students and the e-tutors are trained by April 2018 so that in May the teaching commences,” Dr Mangeni reported.

In the first Trimester, five core courses will be taught: Economic Research Methodology; Microeconomic Foundations for Trade; International Trade Theory and Policy; International Trade Law and Theory of Regional Integration.
The programme was launched in October 2016 during the COMESA Heads of State Summit in Madagascar as a response to some of the challenges facing regional integration not only in COMESA but Africa at large.

“A critical cause of the slow progress in regional integration is the inability of governments to implement the numerous obligations and programs, due to the apparent lack of institutional and human capital and related support mechanisms,” Dr Mangeni said. “Regional integration programs are not always woven into or operationalised as part of the domestic policy processes.”
It is believed that the small number of continental institutions offering appropriate, flexible and affordable Regional Integration programs is a contributing factor. The COMESA Virtual University is therefore a response to this situation.

COMESA Renews Mining Deal with Western Australia

COMESA Secretariat and the Government of Western Australia have renewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mining for a six years period. The two parties signed the MoU at a ceremony in South Africa on the side-lines of the Mining Indaba Conference earlier this month in Cape Town.
Honourable Bill Joseph Johnston, Minister of Mines and Petroleum, signed on behalf of the Government of Western Australia while Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya signed for COMESA.
The MoU is expected to bolster support of the mining sector in the COMESA region. The pact provides a framework for cooperation between COMESA Member States and the Government of Western Australia in mineral and petroleum resources, agriculture, vocational training and capacity building.

The COMESA Industrial Policy and Strategy identifies Mining as a the key priority sectors with the highest potential for minerals that can be harnessed for economic transformation in the region. Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo dominates the mining industry in the COMESA region.

The MoU covers the following areas of: information sharing on the development and administration of mining and petroleum policies, legal and regulatory frameworks in COMESA Member States (particularly in the areas of development of title management systems) special agreements, ownership of minerals, administration of royalty regimes, community development agreements and regulation of safety and environmental performance.

Other areas are training and human resources development in geosciences and the regulation of minerals and petroleum sectors; encouragement of exchange of faculty, researchers and graduate students at the tertiary level and promotion strategies for investment in minerals and petroleum and the development of linkages including integrating artisanal and small-scale mining into the major value chains.

COMESA signed the first MoU with the Government of Western Australia on 31st January 2014 in Lusaka, Zambia. Since then, COMESA Member States and the Secretariat participates in the annual mining conference in Australia (Africa Down Under) and the Indaba. The events unite investors, mining companies, governments and other stakeholders from around the world to learn and network, all towards the single goal of advancing mining on the continent. The Mining Indaba, is also dedicated to supporting education, career development, sustainable development, and other important causes in Africa`s mining sector.

At the Indaba, the COMESA delegation networked with key stakeholders in the mining industry, including private sector and development partners among others. It was also an opportunity to promote COMESA’s brand and attract private sector investment in mining.
Other members of the COMESA team were the Director of Industry and Agriculture Mr. Thierry Mutombo, the Director of Legal and Institutional Affairs Mr. Brian Chigawa and Senior Private Sector Development Officer Mr. Innocent Makwiramiti.