Comesa urged to maximize benefit from natural resources

Jeff Kapembwa

LUSAKA – Madagascar leader Henry Rajaonarimampianina has implored member countries in the Common Market for Southern and Eastern Africa (Comesa) to maximize benefits from the vast mineral and natural resources to improve capacity.

He lamented that while the demand for products from Comesa remains high, the 19 Comesa member countries have failed to meet the challenge and in turn remained net importers of goods and services despite the abundance of resources that can create value addition.

“We are together but we do not manage to really work as one within the organization. We are still importing a lot of goods from outside our organization and export outside our region, while we can deliver these exports to our respective countries.

“Africa is still importing much of its needs from Europe, Asia and the United States, yet we are members of this organization,” President Rajaonarimampianina told Comesa member states on 8 June during his two-day state visit to Zambia.

Comesa and other regional economic blocs such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) today face a challenge to ensure that regional and continental integration is attained without delay, said the Madagascan leader.

The integration at continental and regional level cannot be over emphasised as it remains a yardstick to accelerate intra trade amongst Africans countries and a rider into Europe, where the market is yearning for African products, which should have value to make returns for various economies as espoused by the African Union, he said.

“This is a great challenge in Africa for which the African Union mandated us to achieve economic integration at regional as well as continental levels,” said Rajaonarimampianina.

While noting some of the shortcomings faced by Comesa member states, including infrastructure, energy and agricultural development, he said “there is need for a deliberate policy for all countries to adopt as strategies that will enhance progress in the affected sectors that need urgent attention, despite the challenges”.

He also lamented the cost of climate change, which hampers production and development in the region. He called on countries to resort to clean and renewable energy “to counter the after effects of the hazardous development that has retarded development not only in Africa but globally.

“We must forecast on possible measures to be incorporated into our development plans where climate change is seen as a variable. Alongside this and having talked about energy, we are encouraging our countries to pioneer the development of renewable energy,” he said.

“In addition to these challenges that we are facing, the most important issue is to develop intra-regional trade by trading with each other and working towards eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers; striving to overcome them while respecting the standards we will to put in place, which will assist us grow our economies”.

President Rajaonarimampianina said Comesa made strides in attaining economic growth, Since inception in the early 1990s, but more is needed to be done by using the natural resources to benefit the citizens.

Comesa Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya while commending the Malagasy leader over his growth vision, stated that most member countries have undertaken initiatives to bolster agriculture, energy and growth of other sectors amid threats of climate change and that the continent was poised to overcome the challenges.

During his visit, the Madagascan leader held private talks with Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu at which the two leaders shared various views on the growth of the continuant amid climate change effects.

June 2017
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