Lusaka, Monday, October 16, 2017: The COMESA Business Council (CBC) Board of Directors has approved the 2018 Annual Work Plan which focuses on the development of model policies and flagship advocacy programs that directly contribute to policy making within the region.
CBC Board Chairperson Dr Amany Asfour announced that the work programme includes the development of anti-illicit trade policy and Made in COMESA label, development of anti-corruption Code of Business and other evidence based policy briefs.
She was speaking in Lusaka during the CBC Board meeting and Annual General Meeting held from 6 to 10th October 2017.
The Business Council intends to escalate efforts in building the technical capacity of the private sector as Small and Medium Enterprises, as businesses and as Associations so that they can effectively participate in regional and global markets. This involves extending the Local Sourcing Project to fifteen countries from the current six and also extending BIZNET-the e-platform which facilitates business partnerships through information on buyers on suppliers and creating more awareness on the use of the platform for increased business and market linkages.
On business facilitation tools and services, CBC will work on the development of sector led handbooks that provide market business and trade information within the COMESA region. An initial step was made with the launch of the COMESA Tourism and Wildlife Heritage Handbook – ‘Single Market – Countless destinations which was launched in Kigali, Rwanda.
Speaking at the opening of the AGM, Assistant Secretary General for Programmes Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget commended the CBC for their tireless efforts to develop a powerful and competitive private sector within the COMESA region.
Facilitating trade requires reduction of the number, and simplification of the complexity, of documentation for exporting and importing goods; shortening of time spent at border crossings for goods vehicles and persons; publication and easy access to information and applicable rules; use of tested international best practices in management of border operations; and efficient border customs, standards, environmental, immigration, and statistical agencies that address constraints faced by importers, exporters and logistics people.
As a matter of fact, the cost of doing business in Africa is high, in contrast to other regions, and this has significantly contributed to the perceived unattractiveness of Africa: 8 documents to export, 9 documents to import, 31 days to export, 37 days to import, $1,990 to export a 20ft container, $2,567 to import a 20ft container; figures twice or three times those of some other regions of the world.13 And for this reason, improving the business environment in order to reduce the cost of doing business has been an important priority, for governments at home, and acting jointly within the framework of regional economic communities. Within the framework of regional economic integration, in the Common Market or Eastern and Southern Africa for instance, trade facilitation has consistently been a key priority, both in terms of overarching programs and of specific projects.
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Globally, the services sector is the fastest growing economic sector; accounting for about 70% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 1/3 of global employment and approximately 20% of gross global trade and 45% of world exports in value added terms. Services; particularly, business services are an important link and provide key inputs to other areas of the economy like the manufacturing industry, through infrastructure, transport, financial services, Information and technology and others.
Modern exportable business services exhibit strong economies of scale and externalities and require relatively highly skilled labour, thus providing a realistic opportunity for structural transformation, including for countries without a comparative advantage in agriculture or manufacturing.
Whilst the contribution and significance of tourism to our economies is not debatable, many are still to grasp the importance of wildlife conservation in ensuring tourism development. Wildlife tourism can provide a strong economic incentive for wildlife conservation by being a major long-term source of jobs and income for local people. There is a strong mutual correlation ship between the tourism and wildlife conservation sectors. In our region; East and Southern Africa, wildlife tourism is the primary reason that significant wildlife populations still exist on one hand. On the other, safari tourism is one of the leading contributors to tourism and a dent in the wildlife would be detrimental to our tourism. Poaching deprives communities of their natural capital and cultural heritage and undermines sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation. Wildlife crime is also a security challenge that threatens national security, accelerates corruption and restricts national social and economic development.
Tourism is the world’s largest and fastest-growing service industry and has the potential to contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction, in particular in low-income developing countries. The sector’s capacity to generate employment and income owing to its backward and forward linkages makes it important for economic diversification and economic growth. For a number of COMESA member states, tourism has become the most important productive sector in terms of contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment and foreign exchange earnings. In COMESA island countries (Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros) contributes to at about 25% of their GDP and more than half of their export earnings. In mixed economies like Kenya, Egypt also contributes to approximately 12% GDP and about 20% of export revenue.
On the other hand, backbone services such as Information Communications Technology (ICT) and telecommunications services are gaining an increasing importance in facilitating trade, and have gradually become major determinants of performance and competitiveness of any economy. Evidence shows that network and ICT driven economies have advanced their productivity and improved entrepreneurship, social development and transformation by improving access to basic services, enhancing connectivity, and creating employment opportunities, among other things.
Greater access to energy can improve quality of lives. More than 620 million people in the continent do not have access to electricity and this leads to extreme poverty levels, poor hygiene, limited school education systems and a heavy dependence on foreign production, because of weak local manufacturing of our own products.
What is Africa doing about this? The energy transformation agenda is here. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA), Africa has enormous untapped resources in renewable energy and can diversify from traditional sources of oil and gas. Countries leading in this agenda are Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa , while some of Africa’s smaller countries including
Cabo Verde, Djibouti, Rwanda and Swaziland have also set ambitious renewable energy targets. Others are following suit, and renewable energy is on the rise across the continent.
Climate change demands that we rethink the relationship between energy and development. The carbon-intensive energy systems that drive our economies have set us on a collision course with our planetary boundaries. We can avoid that collision. As a global community, we have the technology, finance and ingenuity to make the transition to a low-carbon future, but so far we lack the political leadership and practical policies needed to break the link between energy and emissions.
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The CBC Annual News Brief gives you a highlight of the past events in 2016. Below are some of the contents;
Page 1 - 1st ICT Workgroup
Page 2 - CBC Board- Annual General Meeting
Page 3 - Tripartite Movement of Business Persons Meeting
Page 4 - Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project-
Page 5 - Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project
Page 6 - COMESA Business Forum
Page 7 - Upcoming Events and BizNet
Page 8 - Highlights from 2016 and About CBC
Lusaka, Friday, 18 November 2016: The COMESA Business Council is set to hold its 10th Annual General Meeting on the 25th November 2016. The meeting which will be held at the Taj Pamodzi hotel in Lusaka will bring together the CBC membership, private and the public sector stakeholders from the nineteen COMESA countries as well the development partners including USAID. The meeting is expected to validate the key achievement of the institution during the period 2015-2016 and also chart the roadmap towards 2017.
Speaking ahead of the AGM the CBC Chairperson said, “This has been a very important year for CBC, one in which we have gone to great lengths to ensure the inclusive participation of the private sector with regional integration agenda. This has been done through the engagement of strategic partnerships to develop tailor-made solutions to respond to our members’ needs and promote a competitive industrial outfit for the region.”
The Meeting which will be preceded by a one day Board Meeting will also see an election and installation of a new board. An award ceremony will also be organized for three key buyers in recognition of their efforts in promoting local sourcing in the region as part of the Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project. Among the companies that will be awarded include the two hotels in Zambia – Taj Pamodzi Hotel and the Protea Hotel and a breweries company from Rwanda – BRALIRWA Limited.
The COMESA Business Council’s 11th COMESA Business Forum was held between 12th and 13th Ocober 2016 in Antananarivo in Madagascar. The event was organized on the margins of the 19th COMESA Summit and Policy Organs Meeting. The theme of the meeting was “QUALITY AFRICA- Sampling the Tripartite Market.” The objective was to provide an opportunity for increased partnerships within the agroindustry sector to ensure long term sustainable development in agriculture; and at the same time, also engage the high level policy makers on some of the key constraints and strategic structures to promote the development of local enterprises and their participation in regional and international supply chains of companies and investors in Africa.
A mini exhibition was also organized bringing together suppliers in the agro-processing sector from nine countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia. Further, business to business meetings were organized during the course of the event.
In attendance were regional and International businesses and visitors from the 19 COMESA Member States, Tripartite countries, Africa and the International community. The two day forum was attended by over 250 delegates attended the forum. The meeting which was officially opened by the Madagascar Minister of Industry and Private Sector His Excellency Nourdine Chabani made various recommendations on SMEs development on the region. For further information download report.
The Tripartite Private Sector Platform convened the 2nd Tripartite Movement of Business Regional Dialogue from the 29th -30th of September 2016 under the theme; “Harmonizing and developing a private sector position on the Movement of Business Persons - Stimulating Trade and Integration”. The objective was to come up with proposals on frameworks to facilitate movement of business persons in the region and to assess the Draft Agreement on the Movement of Business Persons as part of the TFTA framework. The meeting called for the need to work towards a visa free regime, and meanwhile for a framework which facilitates the movement of Business persons and builds upon existing initiatives on the free movement of business persons.
The meeting had the participation of the private sector Associations from 19 Tripartite member states, and the three REC Business Council; COMESA Business Council, East Africa Business Council and the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The objective was to come up with proposals on frameworks to facilitate movement of business persons in the region and to assess the Draft Agreement on the Movement of Business Persons as part of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) framework.
COMESA Business Council held an award ceremony during the Coumcil of Ministers Meeting in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Dr. Amany Asfour, Chairperson of the COMESA Business Council introduced the CBC Local Sourcing for Partnership Project, whose objective was to build the technical capacity of the SMEs agro food suppliers on standards and to promote business linkages with the hotel industries to enable the agro food suppliers’ participation in the supply chains. The end result is the growth of regional supply chains and intra trade growth. As part of the project, in the past year CBC has trained 480 agro food suppliers in 6 COMESA countries on food safety management systems and standards.
For market linkages purposes, CBC has entered into partnership agreements with large corporates in the hotel industry and retailers to afford the SME’s that have been trained market access. A Local Sourcing Recognition Award awarded to some of the buyers or large corporates in recognition of the support they have afforded the project in signing buyer agreements and reinforcing their commitment in practicing responsible procurement methods by sourcing local produced products from their countries of operation.
These companies include;
i. SERENA Group of Hotels
ii. Taj Pamodzi Hotel
iv. Inyange Industries
v. BRALIRWA - HEINEKEN
vi. Sarova Group of Hotels
viii. Partners: USAID EA and
ix. Microsoft4Africa, and, Investment Climate Facility for Africa