Delegation of the European Union to Zambia and COMESA

EU signs EUR 7.6 million towards the COMESA Institutional Capacity Building Programme

Brussels, 16/12/2020 - 16:38, UNIQUE ID: 201216_15
Speeches of the Ambassador

Remarks by Mr Jacek Jankowski Ambassador of the European Union to Zambia & COMESA

Your Excelleny, Ms Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, COMESA Secretary General,

The COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Programmes, Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget,

The COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Finance & Administration, Dr. Dev Haman,

COMESA colleagues, colleagues from the EU Delegation,

Friends from the media

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

It is my privilege and honour to be here to co-sign the Financing Agreement for the EUR 7.6 million “COMESA Institutional Capacity Building Programme“.

After the signing of (i) the Trade Facilitation Programme, (ii) the Cross Border Trade Initiative, and (iii) the Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme, this is the last programme, but certainly not the least important one, which the European Union signs with COMESA under the 11th European Development Fund.

Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen,

COMESA scored many positive results in the recent past. Nonetheless, regional integration in Africa continues to face a number of challenges. These include (i) multiplicity and overlapping membership, (ii) inadequate capacities of Regional Economic Communities (the RECs) and (iii) the reliance on external funding from development partners. However, the European Union remains optimistic and acknowledges the COMESA Secretariat’s efforts to engage its Member States and to deliver concrete results that serve the people on the ground.

The EU and COMESA have jointly designed the Capacity Building Programme that we sign today. The programme clearly responds to COMESA’s institutional capacity constraints. It will address among others human resources, capacity and management challenges at both, the Secretariat and at member states levels. This will help the Secretariat and member states to achieve some of the key milestones under COMESA’s Medium Term Strategic Plans, towards effective implementation of regional commitments at national level.

We at the European Union know from our own experience that it is paramount for RECs to demonstrate better their added value, which is a challenge not only for COMESA. An effective contribution of the RECs is even more important during the present COVID-19 pandemic, which negatively affects transnational engagements, connectivity and regional integration.

Secretary General, distinguished guests,

The European Union and our partners from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Region have just concluded the negotiations on the post-Cotonou Agreement, and we already started consultations with RECs on the regional programming 2021-2027. Moreover, we will soon deploy the new “Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)”, through which the European Union will in future implement its bilateral and regional cooperation with all our partners.

We hope that enhancing the capacity of the COMESA Secretariat and its counterparts and interlocutors at member state level will lead to more ownership and better translate regional interventions and commitments into very concrete deliverables and benefits. The challenge is to enhance ownership of regional policies at national levels.

Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen,

Our COMESA Capacity Building programme works on specific areas, such as monitoring and evaluation, audits, procurement, statistics and financial management processes. We agreed that these are important areas, where COMESA’s capacities and expertise need to enhance, to increase efficiency and to reduce costs within the Secretariat. In addition, our new programme foresees close partnerships with the private sector in COMESA member states, as part of a more inclusive and participatory approach.

Regional integration and connectivity lives of the engagement of the private sector. And you will certainly agree that we need to engage more strongly with the private sector and with international financial institutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that the promotion of value addition and regional value chains goes hand in hand with free, fair and more sustainable trade. In this context, the European Union reconfirms its strong commitment to the AfCFTA, and we see COMESA as an important building block in this regard.

Secretary General, distinguished guests,

Let me once again reiterate the European Union’s commitment to continue supporting COMESA in better fulfilling its central and transformative role in the region. We count on your commitment towards more effective and efficient coordination, management and implementation, including monitoring and evaluation and auditing of commitments and deliverables at regional and national level. This will enable COMESA and its member states to come closer to their shared vision of a strong and vibrant common market. I wish COMESA success in the way forward.

Thank you, Zikomo Kwambiri


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