EGYPT – Egypt is the new Chair of the COMESA Heads of State and Authority after taking over from Madagascar that has been steering the organization since 2016.

The exchange of power took place in Cairo, Egypt, during the 21st Summit of the COMESA Authority of Heads of State and Governments. Egypt last hosted the COMESA Summit in 2001.

The 2021 Summit whose theme is “Building Resilience Through Strategic Digital Economic Integration” comes three years since the last was hosted by the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia, on 18 – 19 July 2018.

President El-Sisi commended his successor for leading the organization effectively and ensuring that regional integration programmes were implemented smoothly during his three years tenure as the chair. Madagascar has cumulatively chaired COMESA for the last five years.

In his address, the new chair outlined the focus of his tenure which includes deepening intra-COMESA trade and investments, industrialization, transport, energy, ICT, private sector development and health.

This is in addition to strengthening regional and continental trade regimes; the tripartite COMESA, EAC and SADC Free Trade Area and the African Continental Free Trade Area.

He called for concerted regional efforts to deepen integration and pointed out that his government has developed a regional integration framework in line with the COMESA Medium Term Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025.

Heads of State and their representatives from the 21 Member States attended the summit virtually and physically.

The heads of State who participated and addressed the Summit were; President Evariste Ndayishimiye, (Burundi), Pres. Kais Saied (Tunisia), Pres. Mohamed Younes al-Menfi, (Libyan Presidential Council), Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth (Mauritius), Pres. Wavel Ramkalawan (Seychelles), Pres. Mohamed Abdullahi (Somalia) and Pres. Paul Kagame (Rwanda). Vice Presidents of Malawi, Uganda and Zambia represented their heads of State.

The leaders called for adoption of digital technologies, harmonization and adoption of policies that promote the creation of such systems in various sectors. They called for regional collaboration to implement programmes to promote economic recovery through trade and investments.

They further, stressed the need to develop green economies in the region in order to cushion the impact of climate change. They commended the COMESA Secretariat for implementing innovation systems such as the digital online platform that is expected to facilitate trade amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her address to the Summit, Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe said the COMESA region’s average growth had slowed down to 0.6% in 2020 down from 5.2% in 2019 and 6.0% in 2018 owing to the COVID-19.

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