Tuesday, September 30, 2008

East Africa: EAC-SADC-Comesa Meet Over Historic Summit

Paulus Kayiggwa, The New Times (Kigali) - 27 September 2008

A meeting to plan for the first Tripartite EAC-SADC-COMESA Summit of Heads of State that will be held in Kampala on October 20 was held Wednesday in Nairobi, The New Times has learnt.

According to a statement, Amb. Juma Mwapachu, the Chief Executive Officer of EAC, COMESA and SADC, said that the three bodies convened to finalise the documentation for the Tripartite Summit.

"We assembled to discuss the programme, agenda and logistical arrangements for the Summit," he said in the statement.

The summit will bring together 26 African Heads of State for the first time under the tripartite forum intended to hasten the achievement of African economic and political integration under the African Union (AU) agenda.

Mwapachu further explained that the EAC-SADC-COMESA Summit is considered as historic because for the first time since the birth of the AU, key building blocs of the African Economic Community are meeting to discuss how to integrate territories and moving towards deepening and widening integration within the overall Abuja Treaty for the establishment of the African Economic Community.

He also revealed that the Summit is expected to decide on matters related to enhancing cooperation among EAC, COMESA and SADC, including deepening trade, investments, and infrastructure, linking transport corridors, promoting joint projects to boost industrialisation, agriculture and food security as well as enabling free movement of people between the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) with the ultimate aim of creating a single market and investment area.

"Currently, we have a combined population of 527 million and a combined GDP of $625 billion," said Mwapachu.

He added that they will also discuss issues of multiple memberships in the RECs with a view to coordinating and harmonising their regional integration programmes.

Key officials who attended the meeting include: Eng. Joao Caholo, EAC-SADC Assistant Executive Secretary, and Stephen Karangizi representing COMESA among others.