COMESA chiefs of state and officials posing for a group photo at the 21 Summit held in Egypt's New Administrative Capital on November 23, 2021. Press Photo
CAIRO – 23 November 2021: The chiefs of state of COMESA countries delivered speeches Tuesday in the 2st summit hosted by Egypt in the New Administrative Capital having as theme "Building Resilience Through Strategic Digital Economic Integration."
Tunisian President Qais Said expressed keenness on reinforcing cooperation with eastern and southern countries, congratulating his Egyptian counterpart on the chairmanship of COMESA. Speaking of the areas of interest, President Said underlined the importance of technology transfer into African countries, and promotion of digital economy. He also underscored necessity of investing in green economy.
Sicily Representative says that regional economic partnerships are very important for small countries like his, suggesting integration between Common Market for East and South Africa (COMESA) and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
In a related context, Former Chair of COMESA and Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina pointed out, “We are still far from exploiting all resources available in the joint market in spite of activation of AfCFTA.”
Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo said digitalization is key to achieve integration among COMESA countries. He added that the targets should be boosting trade exchange among COMESA countries, and attracting direct investments into them. The Somali president also asserted fostering public-private partnership to better accomplish development goals.
In another context, Rwanda President Paul Kagame affirmed his country’s support to ongoing work aimed at promoting financial inclusion in COMESA countries. Further, Burundi President Everist Ndayishimyie said, “We have to collaborate to help countries that were hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic.”
Equally, Democratic Republic of Congo Representative urged the introduction of digital infrastructure in COMESA countries. The same view was shared by Uganda Vice-President Jessica Alupo who suggested improving infrastructure in COMESA countries to serve integration efforts. The representative of DR Congo also proposed seeking the help of WTO to support SMEs in COMESA states.
Malawi Representative noted that boosting intra-trade will benefit eastern and southern African states to a great extent given they are a sizable market. He similarly stressed the importance of combating cybercrime and protecting users in tandem with going through digital transformation.
COMESA Vice-Chairman and Head of Libyan Presidential Council Mohamed al-Manfy warned that Africa’s food security is at stake because of the current status of logistics caused by the pandemic. Manfy expressed hope that COMESA countries will help Libya conclude its transitional period optimally, and urged the European Union (EU) to cooperate over the migration crisis.
Tackling the COVID-19 crisis, Chairperson of African Union Commission Moussa Faki suggested mobilizing efforts toward local production of vaccines in African countries saying that only six percent of Africans got vaccinated.
Speaking of digitalization, Chairman of African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi A. Adesina highlighted funding fiber optics introduction in Congo and Burundi, and striking a €40-billion deal with the EU to finance internet introduction in Sahel countries. Adesina added that AfDB is also giving care to the robotics field.
In the end, World Bank Representative showcased commitment to improving the living standard of African people. Later on, closed sessions began.
At the beginning of the summit, COMESA chairmanship was handed over by Madagascar to Egypt.