Prime Minister of Uganda Amama Mbabazi opened COMESA Kampala summit taking place at Speke Resort Munyonyo an upscale Kampala suburb on 19 November 2012. This year Comesa summit theme is: “Enhancing Intra-Comesa Trade Through Small to Medium Scale Enterprise Development” and is expected to attract 19 Heads of State and Government from east and southern Africa.
Uganda`s Minister of trade, Amelia Kyambadde was quoted by The New Vision as saying that presidents Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Salva Kiir (South Sudan,) Paul Kagame (Rwanda,) Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and Joyce Banda (Malawi ) will attend the presidential summit to be held on November 23, 2012 while Eritrea, Ethiopia, Comoros, Swaziland, Seychelles and Zambia will be represented by their vice presidents.
In his opening speech, Uganda`s Prime Minister said that participants at this summit will deliberate on a number of issues that include trade, customs and monetary affairs, infrastructure development, science and technology, gender, labor and social development, immigration, peace and security, law and order. “The aspect of peace and security amongst Member States and with our neighbors is paramount to achieving all other objectives,” said Right Honorable Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi at the opening of the 31st COMESA Council of Ministers meeting held in Kampala, Uganda on 19 November 2012.
“While we can safely say that the incident of conflicts in the COMESA region has reduced greatly over the years, challenges still remain with potentially devastating effects. Our ultimate objective therefore should be to eliminate all forms of violent conflicts in our region,” said Mr Sam Kuteesa who is the Uganda Minister of Foreign Affairs at the opening of the 12th meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 21 November 2012 in Kampala, Uganda.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA has 19 member states and a population of over 389 million and annual import bill of around US$32 billion with an export bill of US$82 billion. COMESA forms a major market place for both internal and external trading. Its area is impressive on the map of the African Continent covering a geographical area of 12 Million (sq km).
Uganda`s Minister of trade, Amelia Kyambadde highlighted during her speech that COMESA market is currently the largest of Uganda`s export, with a share of 59.0 % in 2010 and 52.6 % in 2011. According to statistics, Uganda has respectively exported goods worth US$ 1.266 billion in 2010 and US$ 1.323.9 billion to the COMESA market.
Kyambadde said that statistics show that COMESA region has a potential for not only increasing trade and investments but also providing an opportunity for market diversification. ” Building the productive capacities of the private sector to leverage production and competitively take advantage of the regional market is a must”, argued Uganda`s Minister of Trade in her speech.
On the role of private sector, Mr Mathews Chikhankeni who is the Chairperson of the COMESA Business Council challenged entrepreneurs to guide governments on how to work together to boost intra-African trade by increasing businesses, cross border trade and creating maximum returns of investment for regional and international players in COMESA markets. Mr Mathews Chikhankeni was speaking at the opening of the COMESA Business Council meeting on 19 November 2012 in Kampala, Uganda.
In his opening remarks at the opening of the 31st meeting of the intergovernmental committee, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya the Secretary General of COMESA welcomed the distinguished guest and observer from within the region for participating in the policy Organs`Meeting. Mr Sindiso said that COMESA integration has largely been premised on the promotion of trade amongst members states. He underlined that the attainment of the Free Trade Area in 2000 and the launch of the customs union in 2009 have been celebrated events in integration journey.
Mr John Bande, Minister of Trade and Industry, Malawi and outgoing Chairperson of the COMESA Council of Ministers said that The COMESA region has grown stronger in the past year because of the consolidation of its internal market through the elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs). He added that of all reported NTBs, 72 percent were removed and that efforts are underway to continue to streamline trade facilitation programmes.
On 23rd of November2012, President Yoweri Museveni assumed chairmanship of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) regional economic bloc. Museveni takes over from the outgoing President Joyce Banda of Malawi who handed over the chairpersonship during the 16th summit of the COMESA heads of state and government according to the New Vision. The summit taking place at the Speke Resort Munyonyo ends on Saturday, 24th November 2012.