More than 300 economists, researchers, government officials and trade experts are in Kigali for the third Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Annual Research Forum.
The five-day forum brings together leading policy research think tanks, academia, and the private sector from the 19 COMESA member states.
Under the theme, ‘Boosting intra-African trade through regional economic communities: Perspectives from COMESA regional integration programme,” the forum seeks to strengthen the participation of governments and key stakeholders in the regional market integration, the COMESA director for trade and customs, Dr Francis Mangeni, said in a statement. The meeting also seeks to create a common understanding on the region’s research priorities for COMESA as the largest regional economic community in Africa, he added.
He said: “Building blocks of the African Union as a common understanding in the regional integration agenda is critical for intra-Africa trade.”
Private sector welcomes the initiative
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Kamanzi, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) director for trade facilitation and negotiations, said the summit is an opportunity for the business community to share with policy-makers some of the bottlenecks the business community faces while conducting cross-border trade.
The regional body recently urged member states to expedite seed regulation harmonisation programme to help increase access to quality and improved seeds by farmers and boost production and household incomes as well as ensure the bloc is food secure.
According to Argent Chuula, the chief executive officer of the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) at COMESA, lack of quality seed contributes significantly to food insecurity and nutrition deficiency in the region as only a handful of countries are food secure and vibrant.