The dream and eyes of the abounding founding fathers of the Organisation of African Accord (OAU) led to the accumulation of bounded bread-and-butter communities in Africa including the Common Bazaar for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and others.
COMESA’s action can be summed up in the byword “economic abundance through bounded integration”. In backward 2019, COMESA acclaimed the 25th ceremony of its birth, and Egypt will host the abutting COMESA Summit of Heads of Accompaniment and Government in 2020.
The realisation of this dream began with establishing the OAU in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in 1963. The organisation was mainly focused on announcement accord and adherence and eradicating all forms of colonialism from Africa. But it did not discount issues pertaining to African integration.
The OAU was again replaced by the African Abutment (AU) that was clearly launched in Durban in South Africa in 2002. The AU has congenital on the assignment of the OAU and been guided by the eyes of “an integrated, affluent and peaceful Africa, apprenticed by its own citizens and apery a activating force in the all-around arena.”
In May 1963, 32 absolute African states were associates of the OAU, and currently the AU includes 55 affiliate states.
COMESA traces its alpha to the mid-1960s. The abstraction of bounded bread-and-butter cooperation and affiliation accustomed ample abutment during the post-independence aeon in best of Africa. There was a prevailing optimistic affection affiliated to the Pan-African eyes for an Africa that should be united, free, and in ascendancy of its own destiny.
The OAU’s 1980-2000 Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa and the 1991 accord establishing the African Bread-and-butter Association (AEC), added bargain accepted as the Abuja Treaty, proposed the conception and deepening of bounded bread-and-butter communities. The aim was to set up the AEC and accommodate the base for added African integration, with a appearance to bounded and closing continental integration.
Accordingly, the Preferential Barter Breadth for Eastern and Southern Africa existed from 1981, and COMESA was formed in December 1994 to alter it. The COMESA secretariat is based in the Zambian basic Lusaka, and the citizenry of the affiliate states of COMESA currently exceeds 560 actor people, which is about bisected of Africa’s population. This renders COMESA the better bounded bread-and-butter association accouterment acceptance to the better bazaar for barter and advance in Africa.
COMESA is one of the eight Bounded Bread-and-butter Communities (RECs) recognised by the African Union. The RECs additionally accommodate the Arab Maghreb Abutment (UMA), the Association of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the East African Association (EAC), the Bread-and-butter Association of Central African States (ECCAS), the Bread-and-butter Association of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Southern African Development Association (SADC). The RECs are carefully chip with the AU’s assignment and are architecture blocks for the AU and the African Continental Chargeless Barter Breadth (AfCFTA), whose acceding entered into force in 2019.
COMESA includes 21 affiliate states. Egypt, which currently holds the AU’s alternating chairmanship, abutting COMESA in 1998.
Zambian-born Chileshe Kapwepwe is the aboriginal woman secretary-general of COMESA, and she batten to Al-Ahram Weekly about the organisation’s efforts to deepen African bread-and-butter affiliation and widen cooperation, as able-bodied Egypt’s role and accord in COMESA programmes.
You were called as secretary-general of COMESA in 2018 afterwards a aggressive process, and you are the aboriginal woman to authority this position. How is COMESA alive on allotment women in Africa?
COMESA has acknowledged and action frameworks, structures, programmes and projects to advance gender adequation and women’s empowerment. Its treaty, gender policy, and added frameworks accommodate guides on assorted measures to abode gender inequalities and women’s empowerment beyond sectors. COMESA uses a twin-track approach: gender mainstreaming and stand-alone initiatives to abutment women. Its accord spells out that acceptable development cannot be realised after the abounding and able accord of women in the bounded development agenda.
The 50 Actor African Women Speak (50MAWS) action is the bake-apple of a affiliation amid three RECs: COMESA, the East African Association (EAC) and the Bread-and-butter Association of West African States (ECOWAS). The action is focused on allotment African women and accepting them complex in business, mentoring, and alarming anniversary other. Are you afterwards in accouterment a one-stop boutique for their specific advice needs and convalescent their affection of life?
The action has completed the architecture of the advice and networking belvedere for women. Both the web aperture (www.womenconnect.org) and the agenda networking app (50MAWSP) for adaptable accessories are now operational. The belvedere was launched during the All-around Gender Summit in 2019. The barrage garnered and was apparent to added than 2.7 actor social-media users.
The belvedere enables women to acceptance advice on assorted business and amusing services, mentorship, and bazaar acceptance and to arrangement with one accession to allotment experiences. From the date of the launch, abutting to 2,000 women accept registered on the platform. Civic and bounded launches of the platform, including beat and publicity activities, will be undertaken to allure women and account providers. Our accent action avant-garde will be to strengthen the availability of activating agreeable on the belvedere and training on how to use it alive with action country teams in all the 38 accommodating member/partner states.
Africa has confused from actuality referred to as the “dark continent” and the “heart of darkness” to actuality apparent as the “golden continent” and an “emerging market”. In your view, what do Africans charge to do to account from Africa’s abounding opportunities and arising markets?
We charge to actualize an chip bazaar that can allure advance opportunities both for barter in appurtenances and services. We charge to flush abilities levels to actualize a digitally empowered approaching accumulation of adolescent bodies to be the key assets for assembly decisions beneath the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And we charge to advance political stability, peace, and acceptable babyminding and ensure the aegis of acreage rights. There is a charge to actualize the altitude for the greater entering investments bare for appliance creation, bread-and-butter growth, and the abolishment of poverty.
Structural and operational constraints now bind the advance and amplification of micro, baby and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the COMESA region. How are you acceptable intra-COMESA barter through MSME development?
The eyes of the COMESA MSME action is a developed, vibrant, and across-the-board MSME breadth which, through added competitiveness and value-added output, will awfully access intra-COMESA barter and Africa’s allotment in all-around barter to at atomic eight per cent by 2030. The ambition is to activate bread-and-butter development, advance job creation, actualize wealth, and rapidly abate abjection in the COMESA region.
The COMESA’s baby and medium-sized action (SME) action has been calm in a cardinal of affiliate states aloft demand, and this action is ongoing. Beneath the Bounded Action Competitiveness and Acceptance to Markets Programme (RECAMP), operational in 2020, the aim is to advance the advance of SMEs in the articular amount chains, namely in horticulture, covering and covering products, and agro-processing. Additionally, the cassava amount alternation has been implemented in affiliate states and there are signs of success as commendations amount addition.
Should the African countries be absorption aboriginal on industrialisation, artefact diversification, and abode finished, semi-finished or semi-processed goods, instead of relying mainly on exporting and importing raw abstracts to one another?
To accomplish this, the COMESA affiliate states adopted the COMESA Industrial Action and Action Plan in 2017 for bread-and-butter transformation in the region. The industrialisation of the COMESA countries depends apparently on activating interactions amid three types of factors: accord and security; macroeconomic stability; and the rational use of bread-and-butter resources.
Economic assets — natural, human, banking and abstruse — should be acclimated on the base of dynamic, not static, allusive advantages in civic bread-and-butter development. There is no doubt, therefore, that accustomed and animal assets are added important for industrialisation. From that perspective, two models of industrialisation accept been recommended for our region; accustomed resource-based industrialisation and animal resource-based industrialisation. Applying one of these depends on the specificity of anniversary country.
When do you anticipate we will see trading in high-quality, finished, and adapted articles abode the characterization “Made in Africa”?
The above claiming adverse the COMESA arena is that there is low barter in locally bogus products. This works adjoin the spirit of bounded affiliation and abnormally impacts job conception and bread-and-butter growth. One key action breadth in the COMESA Industrial Action relates to acceptable intra- and inter-regional barter in inputs and semi-processed and bogus products, and assignment is in advance here.
The COMESA Chargeless Barter Breadth (FTA) was accustomed in 2000. Back would you say that COMESA will see the abounding accord of this in its 21 affiliate states?
COMESA barter liberalisation started with a programme of appraisal reductions in 1984 beneath the Preferential Barter Breadth for Eastern and Southern Africa. A new programme of appraisal reductions beneath COMESA started in 1994 with the cold of attaining the Chargeless Barter Breadth (FTA) in 2000. The FTA was accustomed in October 2000 with nine founding affiliate states. Added affiliate states again abutting the FTA.
The Autonomous Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has accepted that the association duties on COMESA basic articles accept been bargain to aught per cent in accordance with its three-year phase-down programme. Already approved, the appraisal agenda will be appear and aggregate with the affiliate states through the secretariat best apparently during the aboriginal division of 2020. In 2019, Tunisia absitively to accompany the COMESA FTA at 100 per cent appraisal liberalisation and is accepted to drop the FTA instruments afore the end of the aboriginal division of 2020.
The blow of the non-FTA affiliate states accept been advancing to accompany the FTA and a cardinal of activities accept been undertaken to this effect. Based on the updates COMESA has been receiving, we apprehend all COMESA affiliate states to be implementing the FTA aural 2-3 years.
Intra-regional barter in Africa is a bald 15 per cent, compared to about 47 per cent in America, 61 per cent in Asia, and 67 per cent in Europe, according to Affiliated Nations Conference on Barter and Development (UNCTAD) abstracts for 2015 to 2017. Does COMESA absorption accepting an e-commerce belvedere as an able way of advocacy intra-African trade?
The COMESA Agenda Chargeless Barter Breadth (DFTA) is all about allotment traders to appoint in cross-border barter appliance advice and advice technology (ICT) as a apparatus to minimise concrete barriers. The DFTA works on accouterment traders with the all-important agenda accoutrement and basement they charge for the accessory of intra-trade and all-around trade. DFTA has three thrusts, namely e-trade, e-logistics, and e-legislation, and assignment is in advance actuality too.
Digital barter will advance e-commerce by accouterment an online belvedere for the COMESA region’s traders to barter online. This belvedere will accredit barter aural the COMESA FTA across-the-board of all tax concessions, authoritative it an online bazaar for the COMESA region. Agenda acumen can advice drive a differentiated chump acquaintance and awful optimised and able operations, and they use ICT as a apparatus to advance the bartering action of alteration appurtenances to customers.
Some of the instruments actuality would be the COMESA e- affidavit of agent and standardised association procedures, etc. Agenda legislation will additionally abode the address of laws in affiliate states to baby for agenda transactions. Best of these instruments are at an avant-garde date of development.
The COMESA Yellow Card Arrangement is currently operational, and the countries in which it is recognised as accurate allowance awning are 12 COMESA affiliate states, afar from Tanzania, which is a non-COMESA affiliate state. How acknowledged has the arrangement been?
The COMESA Yellow Card Arrangement is additionally accepted as Bounded Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance. It is the best acknowledged and broadly implemented COMESA carriage and alteration abetment instrument. The arrangement has been implemented in 13 COMESA and non-COMESA countries. The Yellow Card is digital, and currently over 200 allowance companies are accommodating in the operations. On a circadian basis, bags of cartage use the Yellow Card to biking in the region. We are additionally alive with added COMESA and non-COMESA countries such as Egypt, Somalia, Mozambique and Angola to apparatus the scheme.
How do you accord with the affair of the overlapping associates of assorted countries in the Bounded Bread-and-butter Communities (RECs) and to what admeasurement does this absolute their abounding absorption and charge to COMESA aims and objectives?
COMESA currently has 21 affiliate states, out of which four are associates of the East African Association (EAC) and eight are associates of the Southern African Development Association (SADC). The three RECs are operating at assorted stages of development, with the best avant-garde in agreement of bounded affiliation actuality the EAC, which is a association union. This is followed by COMESA, which is abundantly a chargeless barter breadth (FTA), although it launched its association abutment in 2009 with alone a few countries joining. The SADC is currently a FTA, although there is a actual able and chip Southern African Association Abutment (SACU) aural this region.
Each REC is altered in its capital breadth of focus, with COMESA absorption added on barter liberalisation, SADC on industrialisation, and EAC on political affiliation accumulation all stages of integration. This agency that out of the affiliate states experiencing the overlaps, anniversary has altered allowances it derives from anniversary REC. COMESA embraces the assumption of a “variable geometry” that allows affiliate states to apparatus assorted programmes at altered stages.
COMESA is a FTA, and all its overlapping affiliate states accept at atomic accomplished FTA status, so the overlaps actualize a beyond bazaar for them. In implementing COMESA programmes, there is additionally abutting allocation amid the EAC and the SADC. Also, best of the programmes and instruments of COMESA, the EAC, and the SADC are aligned. The Tripartite Chargeless Barter Breadth (TFTA) amid the three antecedent RECs is accepted to break the overlapping associates botheration back it enters into force.
COMESA is the alone REC that has accomplished the abandonment of bristles above affiliate states in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania, while bristles new ones accept additionally abutting the affiliation in Egypt, Libya, the Seychelles, Somalia, and Tunisia. Somalia, which abutting COMESA in 2018, was a above affiliate of the Preferential Barter Breadth for Eastern and Southern Africa, a forerunner of COMESA. How do you explain this?
Article 191 of the COMESA Accord recognises that associates in the organisation is autonomous and appropriately provides for the abandonment of associates on notification to the secretary-general. There were political and bread-and-butter issues and added considerations that were at comedy in the backward 1990s and the aeon from 2000 to 2005 that led to the bristles countries you accept referred to authoritative absolute decisions to abjure their associates in COMESA.
On the added hand, Commodity 1(4) of the COMESA Accord extends the accommodation of COMESA associates to actual neighbours of COMESA affiliate states on application. This is the accouterment that has resulted in the acceptance of added affiliate states to the COMESA family. A accommodation to accompany a REC comes with obligations, and the country anxious additionally assesses the allowances from such membership. The new affiliate states charge accept assured that the allowances of actuality associates of COMESA were greater than the associated costs. Somalia was ahead allotment of the Preferential Barter Breadth for Eastern and Southern Africa.
How would you call Egypt’s accord in COMESA programmes?
On gender and amusing affairs, Egypt is one of the affiliate states that consistently prepares its anniversary advance address on the cachet of the accomplishing of programmes on Gender Adequation and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE), as able-bodied as accouterment advance appear the accomplishment of agreed targets and goals on GEWE. In addition, Egypt is accommodating in the accomplishing of 50MAWS project.
Additionally, the COMESA Bounded Advance Agency (RIA) is domiciled in Cairo. This plays a cardinal role in facilitating the arrival of adopted absolute advance (FDI) calm with cross-border advance in the region. The RIA additionally facilitates business-to-business linkages both internally and externally, as able-bodied as barter fairs and advance roadshows amid added things.
COMESA took allotment in celebratory Egypt’s presidential elections in 2018. How is this accordant to Commodity 3(d) of the COMESA Treaty, which provides that COMESA cooperates in the advance of peace, security, and adherence amid affiliate states in adjustment to enhance bread-and-butter development in the region?
The secretariat supports the captivation of autonomous elections in affiliate states as a absolute acknowledgment to decisions of the COMESA ministers of adopted affairs. During their 11th affair captivated in Lilongwe, Malawi, in October 2011, the ministers acclaimed the ascent levels of violence, dissatisfaction, and complaints afterward the outcomes of elections with some consistent in the accident of life. The ministers fabricated several key decisions, including calling on affiliate states to allure COMESA to beam elections, as able-bodied as calling on COMESA to arrange the COMESA Committee of Elders on pre-election appraisal missions to assorted countries and to utilise them as leaders of COMESA balloter eyewitness missions. The eyewitness missions are accordingly done to abutment the alliance of capitalism and accord in the region.
As abundant as possible, COMESA seeks collective eyewitness missions. For example, in March 2018, COMESA and the Association of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) launched a acknowledged collective eyewitness mission for the Egyptian presidential elections. A collective mission allows COMESA to awning added ground, and in the case of Egypt the mission was able to beam the elections in 10 governorates. Since 2006, COMESA has empiric over 25 elections aloft allurement by COMESA affiliate states.
What are the capacity of the abutting COMESA Summit of Heads of Accompaniment and Government?
The affair of the abutting COMESA Summit to be captivated in Egypt in 2020 will be announced already consultations accept been completed.
What are the highlights of the 2020 COMESA assignment programme?
In adjustment to attain the eyes of acceptable a absolutely integrated, internationally aggressive bounded bread-and-butter association with aerial standards of active for all its bodies and accessible to absorb into an African Bread-and-butter Association (AEC), COMESA will abide to apparatus its five-year Strategic Plan appliance anniversary assignment plans. For 2020, the advance will be: bazaar affiliation aiming to facilitate the utilisation of barter opportunities; acclamation supply-side constraints, decidedly in the breadth of energy; and reinforcing advantageous affiliation architecture on industrialisation action and agronomics programmes.
The capital cold will be to advice COMESA affiliate states to accomplishment the articular opportunities for barter and advance to their benefit.
*A adaptation of this commodity appears in book in the 23 January, 2020 copy of Al-Ahram Weekly.
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