Oliver Kazunga, Acting Business Editor
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the European Union (EU) have signed a 7,6 million euro financing agreement for institutional capacity building programme in Africa.
Comesa, a 21-member trading bloc comprises countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Rwanda, Djibouti, Rwanda and Kenya.
The pact was co-signed recently by the Comesa secretary-general Mrs Chileshe Kapwepwe and the EU Ambassador to Zambia who is also the special representative to Comesa, Mr Jacek Jankowski.
“The objective of the programme is to deepen regional integration in the Comesa region, and to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of the Comesa secretariat in the implementation of regional cooperation projects and engagement with its Member States,” said the regional trading bloc.
It is hoped that the capacity building programme will support Comesa in the domestication and implementation of regional commitments at Member States level.
“It will further facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue on regional economic integration in the Tripartite framework of Comesa, the East African Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc).”
In addition, the Comesa Institutional Capacity Building Programme will increase the coordination, management (operational and financial), implementation and procurement capacity of the secretariat and enhance the production and dissemination of harmonised and gender responsive regional statistics.
The programme will also address organisational challenges and constraints, aiming at more effectiveness and efficiency of the Comesa secretariat’s operations.
The Comesa Institutional Capacity Building Programme has four key result areas which include improved monitoring and evaluation capacities for implementation of regional commitments at regional and national level, including gender mainstreaming, and improved Comesa financial, audit and internal control systems and processes in line with international standards.
Mrs Kapwepwe was quoted describing the programme as key adding that it would provide the necessary backing to achieve the set goals for the good of the member States who remain the target beneficiaries.
“This is an important and timely programme for us as a region, and it will help us strategise our priorities clearly and create public awareness with a view to mobilise resources where the gaps are,” she said.
Amb Jankowski said the programme “provides an opportunity for the Comesa secretariat and its member States to enhance their capacities in order to achieve key milestones set under Comesa’s Medium Term Strategic Plan and to effectively implement regional commitments at national level.”
He emphasised that the bloc’s contribution is even more critical during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has negatively affected trans-border trade and market access among member states in the region.
The Comesa institutional capacity building programme is financed through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
It is in line with the EU and Comesa policies to enhance the capacity of both, the Comesa secretariat as well as Comesa member states, including the private sector, to deepen regional integration.
The programme will be implemented over five-years. — @okazunga