Category Archives: COMESA


Border officials trained on the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime

Border officials and traders at ten border points between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda have been empowered with knowledge on the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime and the minimum standards for treatment of small scale cross border traders.

The training and awareness creation programme conducted by COMESA staff was held under the World Bank funded Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project (GLTFP). The first phase of this project covers the DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The four main objectives of the workshops were to make the GLTFP known, to increase awareness among the customs, immigration, police and health officers, Cross Border Traders Associations (CBTAs), cross border traders and other stakeholders on the COMESA STR and the regulations on minimum standards for the treatment of small scale cross border traders.

Other objectives were that improved understanding of the STR is expected to contribute to greater impetus towards implementation of the STR and ultimately more small scale traders benefitting from the regime.

The enhanced understanding of gender issues and the regulations on the minimum standards for the treatment of small scale traders would contribute to more professional treatment of small scale traders and reduction of incidents of harassment, corruption, conflict and other malpractices and ultimately reduce costs of doing business by small scale traders.

The borders that were trained are Rusizi and Rubavu in Rwanda, Bukavu, Bunagana, Kasindi, Mahagi and Goma in the DRC and Bunagana, Mpondwe and Goli in Uganda.

Each of the 10 awareness workshops held from 7 – 21 December 2017, was attended by an average of 50 participants.

Green Energy in Focus as AU – EU Celebrates 10 Years of Partnership

Investing in off-grid solutions using renewable energies would save US$35,000 per kilometer for transmission lines, COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya told delegates attending the 10th Anniversary of the Africa – European Union Energy Partnership in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, last week.

He said that financing and business models for off-grid electrification, through green energy technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, should include the community owned mini-grid management. He proposed for further exploration of the utility-based model, private sector-led mini-grids, and also hybrid models which would try to combine different approaches.

“Energy linkages to other sectors, in particular, renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal small hydro power, etc., could be used to support public uses such as lighting and vocational teaching in schools, sterilization, refrigeration and other usages in health clinics, public water systems, and street lighting,” Mr. Ngwenya said.

“The low population density in Africa would require massive investment to increase the access to energy,” the Secretary General stated. “The productive uses of electricity in agro-industries could be significant and these benefits could be related to the expansions in output and the existence of a market for the output, as well as employment expansion.”

Mr. Ngwenya stressed the need to ensure that Africa takes the advantage of the different financing windows available such as the one trillion dollars from climate change to leapfrog to increase access to electricity.

On Africa-EU Energy Partnership Perspectives, the Secretary General indicated that over the 10 years of Africa-EU Energy Partnership, substantial progress between Africa and Europe has been realized. This range from political declarations and agreements to technical assistance and actual projects in the African countries.

The AEEP’s objective is to improve access to secure, affordable and sustainable energy for both continents, with a special focus on increasing investment in energy infrastructure in Africa. The AEEP Steering Group is comprised of the European Commission, the African Union Commission, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Egypt, Germany and Italy.

The Secretary General assured of COMESA’s willingness to continue supporting the Africa EU Energy Partnership in the development of legal and institutional frameworks for public private sector partnerships.  This he noted, would increase the private sector participation in infrastructure development and especially in the energy sector.

The African perspective on the way forward in this partnership was to pursue the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Other speakers included Mr. Stefano Manservisi, Director General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), European commission; Ambassador Sergio Mercuri, Minister Plenipotentiary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italy and Mr. Cheikh Bedda, Director of Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission.

The AEEP event at the EU-Africa Business Forum was attended by representatives of the private sector who are engaged in the Partnership’s work, as well as other stakeholder’s central to the achievement of the AEEP 2020 Targets. The key messages and conclusions of the AEEP event, together with those of other sessions at the EU-Africa Business Forum, will feed into the AU-EU Summit.

Proposed COMESA 2018 Annual Budget Drops

Lusaka.The proposed 2018 annual budget for the COMESA Secretariat and its agencies has declined by US$10 million dollars as several cooperating partners grants come to an end. This was revealed during the opening of the 37th meeting of the Committee on Administration and Budgetary matters.

“The annual budget will decrease from USD42 million in 2017 to USD32 million for 2018. This translates into a 30% reduction,” Mr. Ngwenya said. Member States are expected to contribute $16.7 million while cooperating partners are expected to provide $15.6 million

He told the delegates that funding from cooperating partners may however increase for 2018 if the programming processes of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) funds are completed early and grant agreements are signed.

Among the COMESA agencies that will be affected are the Regional Investment Agency (RIA) the Federation of Women in Business (FEMCOM) and the COMESA Competition Commission.

In his official address, the Secretary General urged Member States to put up deliberate measures to increase the proportion of their financial contribution to the budget.

He noted: “At some point, our cooperating partners will naturally expect COMESA Member States to assume a greater share of funding of the COMESA work programme.”

To ensure the desired levels of integration and cooperation is achieved, the Secretary General called for the speedy implementation of agreed COMESA instruments by member states. He noted that the current levels of production and infrastructure development were affecting job creation and intra-COMESA trade.

“COMESA may not achieve the desired development milestones in 2020 at this low implementation level of COMESA instruments,” he said.

The Administrative and Budgetary Committee supports and guides the Secretariat in administrative, financial, human resources and audit matters.

During the three-day meeting, the Committee will consider matters relating to the management of human resources, review the current (2017) and previous (2016) performance and the 2018 work programme and budget for the COMESA Secretariat, institutions and agencies.

Delegates will examine the consolidated internal audit report which highlights areas that the secretariat is working on to enhance corporate governance and institutional systems

They will also review the internal financial controls ranging from strengthening of financial reporting, external audit, report on internal controls findings and new policy instruments.

Participants comprise technical officers from governments of the 19 COMESA member states. Their report will be presented to the 37th meeting of the COMESA Intergovernmental Committee and eventually to the Council of Ministers meeting next week for decision making.

COMESA Policy Organs Meetings Begins this Week

Top ranking government officials led by Ministers from the 19 COMESA Member States will be converging in Lusaka, Zambia in the next two weeks for the annual decision-making meetings. They will be taking part in the 37th COMESA Council of Ministers’ meeting, the Intergovernmental Committee (IC) and the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters.

The Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters will be the curtain raiser and takes place from Thursday to Saturday 26 – 28 October 2017. It will be followed by the IC from Monday 30 October to Wednesday 1st November 2017 and the Council of Ministers meeting on Thursday and Friday 2nd and 3rd November 2017.

The theme for the meetings is ‘COMESA Towards Digital Economic Integration’. It seeks to refocus attention on the need to harness the potential of information communication technologies in addressing the existential challenges of regional integration. It comes at a time when the COMESA Secretariat has embarked on a digitization drive that has so far transformed all its meetings to paperless.

Further, it has introduced software’s to capture small scale trade data using smart phones to promote e-business; launched a Short Messaging Service (SMS) for reporting trade barriers and working on a digital Free Trade Area Application that will incorporate

e-Commerce, e-Legislation and e-Logistics.

Delegates in the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters will deal with budget of the Secretariat including Member States assessed contributions. It is expected to come up with innovative ways of financing regional integration programmes given the challenges that some member States have in meeting their financial obligations to the Secretariat and its institutions.

The Intergovernmental Committee will bring together Permanent or Principal Secretaries designated by each of the 19 Member States. It is responsible for the development of programmes and action plans in all fields of co-operation except in the finance and monetary sector. The IC will review various status reports on the implementation of regional integration programmes.

The recommendations of the IC meeting which will incorporate that of the administrative and budget matters will be presented to the Council of the Ministers for decision making. The decisions taken by the Council will be binding to all the Member States and will also constitute the work programme for the COMESA Secretariat in the coming year and beyond. Development partners that support COMESA programmes will attend some of the sessions.

COMESA Region set to Abolish Roaming Charges

Citizens in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) may soon enjoy reduced calling charges, courtesy of a decision taken yesterday by Ministers in charge of infrastructure.

In their 10th meeting that took place in Lusaka, Zambia, 3 – 4 October 2017, the Ministers and government representatives from 15 of the 19 COMESA countries resolved to initiate action towards abolishing roaming charges levied on mobile calls.

The move is intended to bring down the price of information communication and technology services that remains high in Africa compared to other regions of the world.

In their final report, the Ministers observed: “Although the pricing of voice services in many African countries was becoming competitive and comparable with the rest of the world, the cost of broadband continued to be out of reach of most people.”

They noted that Africans paid on average 25 per cent of monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita mobile cellular calls compared to 11 per cent in other developing nations.

In COMESA region, studies have shown that Malawians use more than $12 (£7.70) a month on mobile phones., the minister noted.

“This is more than half of what an ordinary Malawian earns in a month which is very expensive,” the Ministers noted. Hence there was a general concern on high mobile termination and roaming charges. They noted that although mobile phones had provided new sources of originating international traffic, it was also more expensive to terminate traffic on mobile networks.

The ministers urged the COMESA member States to emulate other grouping in Africa and beyond in coming up with reduced roaming and termination charges. They cited the East African Community which has eliminated roaming and termination charges and the European Union where mobile operators were no longer charging additional fees to their customers for using their phones anywhere else in the region.

“The ICT regulators are encouraged to carry out studies to reduce the interconnection rates and reduce or eliminate the roaming charges,” said the Ministers. “Member States are encouraged to invest into the Fibre Technology to The Home (FTTH) to increase capacity and provide excellent quality.

The ministers observed that despite substantial investments in network infrastructure in the recent years, Africa lacked a robust network connectivity and high-quality, affordable Internet access.

They noted: “COMESA countries represent over 37% of the internet users in Africa and Africa represents 7% of the internet world’s users. Hence, COMESA constitutes 2.5% of the world’s population of the internet users.

In their decision, which is binding to all the COMESA countries, the Ministers called for setting up of proper regulation to encourage investment in the Virtual Mobile Network Operator (MVNOs) to enhance competition and increase access. In Africa, MVNO permits have been issued in Morocco, Kenya and South Africa.

Unlocking COMESA’s US$80bn trade potential pegged on infrastructure

The 10th meeting of the COMESA Ministers responsible for Transport and Communications, Information Technology and Energy concluded in Lusaka, Zambia.

The ministers considered the report of the COMESA committee of infrastructure experts’ that concluded on Monday 2nd October 2017 which reviewed the status of domestication and implementation of programmes in transport and communications, energy and information technology in the region.

At the opening of the meeting, COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya informed the Ministers that the absence of cross border production networks that would result in intra industry trade between and among firms within the region has been a major trade barrier.

“The current intra-regional trade in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa is US$20 billion with a potential of over US$82.3 billion,” he said. This potential can only be unlocked by addressing transport and logistic challenges which are fundamental to the COMESA agenda of inclusive and sustainable industrialization.”

The sectors with the highest intraregional trade potential are textiles, wooden furniture, horticulture, household items, confectioneries, hides and skins, footwear and leather products, sugar confectioneries, tobacco and precious metals.

The Secretary General observed that COMESA Member States have the highest potential in producing and exporting the products whose total value is approximately 10 times that of existing trade. He noted that while considerable progress has been made in establishing favourable trading arrangements among member states, there was need to ensure the productive side was properly structured.

“The paradox is that the products are produced and exported to the rest of the world and at the same time imported from the rest of the world into the region,”

Since the launch of the COMESA free trade area in 2000, intra-regional trade has risen from US$3.2 billion in 2000 to the current $20 billion.

Zambia’s Acting Minister of Transport and Communications Mathews Nkhuwa opened the meeting. He called on member states to put in place policies, systems, institutions and resources to ensure adequate infrastructure capacity in terms of quantity and quality.

“We need to mobilize adequate resources to address this challenge in line with national and regional priorities because infrastructure is pivotal in enhancing economic development of the region,” Nkhuwa said.

A report presented to the Ministers at the meeting highlighted notable infrastructural projects that have been completed in the region. These include the first phase of the standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi which will eventually connect Kenya to Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan. Ethiopia has also completed constructing a 750-kilometer standard gauge railway which will connect to Djibouti.

In the energy sector, the region currently has a total installed power generation capacity estimated at 65,791 megawatts as at the end of 2016. This is a 36% increase from 2012 figures of 48,352 megawatts.

On ICT, COMESA countries represent 37% of the internet users in Africa. There is therefore needed to do more to enable majority of Africans have access to ICT services.

At the meeting, the Ministers were taken through a new transport system known as the Futran. The System which was developed in South Africa seeks to address the need for a new class of cost effective large scale transportation systems in Africa especially for densely populated cities. It can be applied to bulk freight, factories and warehouses, and public transport.

Once implemented the Futran System shall provide efficient, cost effective, transportation for the goods from points production to market places at very low costs and provide affordable rates for passengers.

Comesa mining

COMESA in the annual mining conference

COMESA is among international organizations, States and companies that are participating in the 2017 Africa Down Under (ADU) conference taking place in Perth, Australia.

The ADU is an annual event aimed at raising awareness of Australia’s interests in African mining and energy. It is attended by government officials and representatives, executives, financiers/bankers/brokers/analysts, investors, international and local media, mining service industry, suppliers and mining consultants.

COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya and several Ministers of mining from COMESA Bremen States are attending the Conference. The Premier of Western Australia Hon. Mark McGowan opened the conference.

COMESA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Western Australia in Lusaka, Zambia, on 31st January 2014 which established a cooperation framework between organization member States and the Government of Western Australia. The MoU covers mineral and petroleum resources, agriculture, vocational training and capacity building.

UN Women, COMESA discuss Cooperation framework

UN Women Regional Director Ms. Izeduwa Derex-Briggs visited the COMESA Secretariat, Thursday, 17 August 2016 to discuss modalities of implementing an MoU signed between the two organizations in April 2016. Ms. BrUN Women Regional Director Ms. Izeduwa Derex-Briggs visited the COMESA Secretariat, Thursday, 17 August 2016 to discuss modalities of implementing an MoU signed between the two organizations in April 2016.

Ms. Briggs held talks with the Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget that focused on the development of a framework to implement the MoU.

The UN Women Representative in Malawi, Ms. Clara Anyangwe, COMESA Director of Gender Mrs Beatrice Hamusonde and Gender Expert Talumba Banda participated in the meeting. Among the key initiatives to be undertaken are gender empowerment programmes particularly for women in agriculture. iggs held talks with the Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget that focused on the development of a framework to implement the MoU. The UN Women Representative in Malawi, Ms. Clara Anyangwe, COMESA Director of Gender Mrs Beatrice Hamusonde and Gender Expert Talumba Banda participated in the meeting. Among the key initiatives to be undertaken are gender empowerment prog


RAERESA holds sensitization workshop on renewable energy guidelines

The Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) this week held a regional sensitization workshop on renewable energy guidelines as a way of promoting harmonized renewable policy and regulatory guidelines among Member States.

The workshop had 45 participants from 15 Member States namely; Burundi, Congo DR, Rwanda, Swaziland, Egypt, Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar and Comoros. Others were from Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sudan and Uganda. RAERESA is a specialized institution of COMESA.

The objectives of the workshop were to train and assist COMESA countries to implement the renewable energy guidelines and best practices developed with support from USAID.

These guidelines include the COMESA Public Private Partnership Guidelines(PPP), the Power Purchase Agreement Guidelines (PPA), and the Model Energy Policy Framework. Others are the COMESA Guidelines on Joint Development of Projects, The COMESA Feed In Tariff (FIT)Guidelines and the Regulatory Framework on Off Grid Electrification.

In endorsing these guidelines, the COMESA council of Ministers directed the COMESA secretariat to facilitate training programmes for Member States on the said guidelines to fully understand and further internalize and domesticate these guidelines and that they be urged to avail relevant information from their respective countries with the view to sharing with others.

It is expected that after the training, Member States shall be able to develop their legal and regulatory frameworks for renewable energy projects and help harmonize these frameworks across countries and help unlock the development of renewable energy potential in the COMESA region.

Speaking during the training workshop, RAERESA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mohamedain Seif Elnasr urged the workshop participants to take the training seriously share best practices from those States that are doing better in renewable energy.

“Renewable energy has the potential to facilitate the improvement of the quality of life of the people in the COMESA region through providing energy security and energy access opportunities adding that the COMESA region with untapped renewable energy potential, therefore has at golden opportunity to leapfrog into the front ranks of the race in to the green economy era,” Dr Seif Elnasr said.

The workshop took place at Chaminuka Resort, east of Lusaka, Zambia from 7th to 11th August 2017.


COMESA develops seed labels and certificates for intra-regional seed trade

Intraregional seed trade is set for a boost following the introduction of seed labels and certificates to be utilized by seed companies for large consignment crossing the borders. The move is intended to spur regional trade through improved seed varieties across the region.

The COMESA Seed Labels and Certificates will be used by member States to identity seeds in the market that meets the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonization Regulations of 2014.

This development is line with the COMESA Seed Harmonization and Implementation Plan (COMSHIP) that provides a framework for the 19 COMESA Member States to trade, facilitate seed industry and support local seed companies.

Samples of the labels and certificates were presented during a one day meeting of regional seed companies and National Seed Review teams from seven COMESA Member States that have aligned their national seed laws to the COMESA Seed Policies.

Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi participated in the meeting alongside 20 seed companies in the eastern and southern Africa region.

COMESA Alliance of Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) and the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) organized the meeting.

The COMESA seed labels are based on the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and will apply to four seed classes: Pre-basic Seed, Basic Seed, Certified Seed (1st Generation) and Certified Seed (2nd Generation).

According to Dr John Mukuka, the Seed Expert at ACTESA, the certificates will be given to a seed company upon verification that a Seed Lot is of a released variety on the regional catalogue.He said the procurement of the labels and certificates will be done in the course of July and ready for use in August 2017.

“Seed exporting companies will be issued with a COMESA Regional Seed Certificate to confirm they are qualified,” Dr Mukuka said.

The labels and certificates are designed to certify the seeds as having been produced in accordance with all the requirements the COMESA Seed Certification System as provided by the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonization Regulations.

Further, they will verify that seed multiplication was registered, inspected and met COMESA field standards and that the Seed Lot meets the minimum laboratory seed analysis standards of the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonization Regulations.

The labels will be tagged on bags of seeds that will be traded across the countries that have aligned their national seed laws with COMESA harmonized laws. Currently, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Zimbabwe have completed aligning their national seed laws while Malawi and Zambia are in final stages of the process.

Following the endorsement of the proposed documents, a regional firm will be contracted to formulate and design the COMESA Seed Labels. The design will take into account consistency in quality and numbering. To ensure readability the labels will incorporate machine-readable features, security features and traceability across COMESA Member States

Dr Mukuka said: “The contracted firm will be the sole printer of the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations documentations. The firm will come up with control measures for labels branding, printing, issuance and accountability of the documents and printed in English, French and Arabic, the COMESA official languages.”

Working with the National Seed Authorities the COMESA ACTESA will authorise the issuance of the COMESA Seed Labels and Seals for the seed companies.

Eventually, the COMESA Seed Lot consignment will be incorporated into the COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS), an online system used for processing trade facilitation instruments and cargo monitoring.