COMESA was formed in 1994 to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA) arrangement which had existed earlier. COMESA was established “as an organization of free independent sovereign states which have agreed to co-operate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people”. With its 21 member states, population of over 583 million GDP of $805 billion, a global export/import trade in goods worth US$ 324 billion. COMESA forms a major market place for both internal and external trading.
By signing up to COMESA, countries agreed on the need to create and maintain:
- A full free trade area guaranteeing the free movement of goods and services produced within COMESA and the removal of all tariffs and non-tariff barriers;
- A customs union under which goods and services imported from non-COMESA countries will attract an agreed single tariff all COMESA States;
- free movement of capital and investment supported by the adoption of common investment practices 50 as to create a more favourable investment climate for the entire COMESA region:
- A gradual establishment of a payments union based on the COMESA Cleaning House and the eventual establishment of a common monetary union with a common currency;
- The adoption of a common visa arrangement, including the right of establishment leading eventually to free movement of bona fide persons.
Digital Regional Food Balance Sheet (RFBS) launched. In September, 2022, COMESA in partnership with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) launched the digital Regional Food Balance Sheet (RFBS). The RFBS aims to accelerate the application of digital, remote sensing and advanced analytical technologies to provide forecasts for major food commodities in the East and Southern African region. This initiative will help the region to inform policy and business decisions on food security, agricultural trade and investment.
COMESA is supporting HCD programmes in the region (member states). Over 40 Students enrolled for COMESA Masters in Regional Integration Programme in July, 2022. Out of these, 39 students have received COMESA scholarships supported by the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). The scholarships were delivered through the project on ‘Enhancing COMESA’s Capacity in Trade Policy Analysis, Research and Training for Deeper Regional Integration and Participation in the Global Economy’. The Programme was offered by the Kenyatta University in Kenya and the University of Mauritius with a focus of providing a sound basis for conceptual, policy and practical training in various aspects of regional integration and it covers diverse disciplines including economics, law, political economy, international trade and finance among others.
African Development Bank, Common Markets for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Signed US$550,000 Grant to Conduct Study on Developing Africa Cloud Ecosystem. The African Development Bank and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) signed a Letter of Agreement for a US$550,000 NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility grant to support a feasibility study for setting up an Africa Cloud Ecosystem (ACE) project.
The grant will support the first phase; Market Analysis (Pre-investment study) which will assess the market for the ACE project and examine the bankability of the project including testing of the concept in the COMESA region.