he Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Africa’s largest regional economic organisation, has called upon its member states to take immediate action in removing barriers that hinder the region’s integration. The plea came during the recently concluded 22nd COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Lusaka, Zambia.
While acknowledging the progress made towards achieving integration, the summit’s participants highlighted the need for further efforts to ensure the success of the program. In a communique released after the summit, member countries were urged to dismantle all restrictions on the movement of people, labor, goods, and services within the region. Specifically, COMESA emphasised the importance of removing visa requirements and establishing mutual recognition of qualifications to promote intra-trade and investment, thereby maximizing the benefits of integration.
The leaders recognised the pivotal role of services in facilitating production, generating employment, and attracting foreign direct investment. Consequently, member states were called upon to streamline the production and movement of goods and services across the region.
While commending the progress made in enhancing transparency and efficiency in addressing non-tariff barriers to trade, the summit’s attendees urged member states to continue strengthening institutional reforms. Additionally, they emphasized the enforcement of protocols and regulations aimed at eliminating non-tariff barriers, thereby fostering a conducive environment for trade and economic growth.
The importance of peace, security, and stability was underscored as a fundamental prerequisite for creating an enabling environment for investment, sustained economic development, and viable integration within the region.
The summit, held under the theme “Economic Integration for a Thriving COMESA Anchored on Green Investment, Value Addition, and Tourism,” saw leaders deliberate on strategies to bolster COMESA’s standing as a key player in Africa’s economic landscape. With 21 member countries and a combined population of 583 million, COMESA boasts an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of 805 billion U.S. dollars, making it the continent’s largest trading bloc.
As COMESA issues this urgent call to action, member states are expected to prioritise the removal of barriers and the implementation of measures that will foster greater economic integration. The successful realization of COMESA’s vision holds the potential to propel Africa toward sustainable growth, increased prosperity, and a more interconnected continent.