Lusaka – Comesa member states want to embrace digital technologies as a means of growing their economies during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim is to develop a “shock-proof” guard against present and future threats.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the Heads of State and Government Summit hosted by Egypt last week, it was also agreed to jointly foster growth of a sustainable blue economy in all 21 member states.
In their communiqué, leaders also resolved to intensify efforts to combat climate change; expeditiously harmonise standards to facilitate intra-Comesa trade; and consolidate the Comesa-EAC-SADC alliance to contribute to continental integration.
Themed “Building resilience through strategic digital economic integration”, member states committed themselves to scaling up investment in research and innovation in health, particularly as regards the Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy.
The Summit commended strides made by Rwanda, Uganda and other member states in vaccine production, and called for fair global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Members endorsed establishment of a Multi–Sectoral Technical Committee on Health to co-ordinate and support regional programmes at the Secretariat in line with Article 110 of the COMESA Treaty.
Countries pledged to endeavour to liberalise services to enhance intra-Comesa trade, while it was noted that accelerated infrastructure development would greatly advance commerce in the region.
All member states were urged to adopt and implement the Comesa and Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation instruments to improve corridor efficiency; and to continue with programmes to upgrade and maintain corridor infrastructure and facilities.
Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, eSwatini, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe have already submitted instruments of ratification.
The Tripartite Agreement requires three more ratifications for it to enter into force.