Zambia has assumed the position of Chairperson of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern (COMESA) authority of the Heads of State and Government.
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema is also the Chairperson of the new bureau of the regional economic bloc which will be deputised by Burundi.
The handover ceremony of the instruments of power by the outgoing Chairperson, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to the incoming Chairperson was done during the 22nd COMESA summit of Heads of State and Government which was hosted by Zambia and COMESA.
In handing over power, President Fattah El-Sisi has challenged Zambia to continue focusing on issues of regional integration through coming up with specific projects that will benefit people.
Mr Fattah El-Sisi explained that Africa and COMESA as a region still has a lot of work to do in attaining its vision and objective of achieving regional integration through peace and stability.
He noted that it is disappointing to see a number of countries within the region still facing instability.
He said this is why there is a need for countries to come together and ensure that tenants of peace and stability are embraced as the region strives to attain its ambitious objective of economic and regional integration anchored in trade and investment.
President Fattah El-Sisi added that to this effect Egypt will continue to offer support to countries that are facing conflicts like Sudan to ensure that peace and stability returns and encourage them to establish amicable measures of resolving their differences.
He said this is because it will be difficult for the region to meet it’s objective of transforming the economic development if some member states are still faced with instability.
” As Egypt we shall continue to support efforts aimed at restoring peace and stability in some member states that are currently facing instability, like Sudan, because we know that it will be difficult for us to achieve our shared vision and objective if this is not addressed,” he stated.
President Fattah El-Sisi has advised President Hichilema as he assumes the role of Chairperson authority to concentrate and focus more on joint venture projects that will in- turn help accelerate the integration efforts among member states.
He explained that this is the only way that COMESA will deepen its economic and cooperation integration by working as a coordinated group.
In accepting the new role as Chairperson of the COMESA authority, President Hichilema re-affirmed Zambia’s commitment to supporting efforts aimed at peace and security everywhere, in an effort to promote economic development.
President Hichilema noted that there is a need for Africa to attain its agenda 2063, of having an inclusive social and economic development, peace and stability which must be brought to every country on the continent.
” We need to stabilize our region,we need to take stalk of where we are coming from and where we are going,we have seen a lot instability on the continent that has potential to slow down the economic gains that we have achieved, peace and security is key to us successfully attaining the agenda 2063, which is anchored on our shared vision of propelling economic growth and development,” he explained.
The President said COMESA is a building bloc for the Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will provide a larger market for the continent, hence the need for member states to explore the opportunities that are available in order to improve their economies.
Mr Hichilema said this is why there is need to come with collective decisions that are targeted at harnessing the natural endowment of the region and unlock economic opportunities that can bring about sustainable development.
He also thanked the Egyptian President for coming up with different projects to promote economic integration, during his tenure as the Chairperson of the COMESA authority.
He also promised to embrace the idea of supporting joint venture projects, adding that it is an effective way of accelerating and harmonizing trade and economic integration within the region.
” We shall continue with your focus of lobbying for joint investment ventures,and harmonize our trade,we need non stop borders as compared to one stop borders, because through non stop borders we will be able to effectively reduce the cost of doing business, reduce travel time as countries should also reduce the roadblocks, but this should not compromise the fight on drug and human trafficking which still continue using advanced technology,” he pointed out.