This has been a very important year for CBC, one in which we have gone to great lengths to ensure institutional growth and sustainability of the institution in line with the recently adopted Strategic Plan 2018-2022, with the vision, “Building regional and going global.”
We are on a growth trajectory as an institution with a strategic direction towards strengthening partnerships, capacity and collaboration amongst businesses in the region. CBC recognizes that exploiting the opportunities in COMESA cannot be done in silos, it is necessary to harmonize the interests of industry to influence policy agendas, so that they benefit the business of trade.
Our right positioning as members of the CBC becomes imperative, if we are to be part and parcel of not only the COMESA agenda, but to fully benefit from the recently signed African Continental FTA. This opens vast opportunities for trade and investments with an expected growth in intra-regional trade by more than 52% in 2022. Permit me to take stock of what we have accomplished so far in implementing this vision.
A NEW, STRATEGIC AND TRANSFORMATIVE AGENDA
2018 has introduced a key flagship project that focuses on building the capacity of MSMEs to develop and implement anti-corruption compliance codes in their enterprises. In 2019, the CBC will focus on the development of a Regional Code on Anti-Corruption Compliance for enterprises. This Code coupled with the training for businesses enables private sector responsiveness towards stemming out corruption, improved transparency and reform initiatives thereby achieving a good and enabling business environment.
Another flagship project is the expansion of digital technologies for all industries in COMESA. This year, our focus was primarily on digital inclusiveness in the Agro- industry sector, Financial services, Trade Facilitation and understanding the impact of blockchain technology, data sharing and analytics on industries in general. It is worth noting that this particular program has birthed a two year project focusing on developing a common digital payment solution for Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) . The project will focus on strengthening digital financial inclusion, improving financial regulation and ultimately the cost of trading for MSMEs in COMESA.
It is important that within the drive for enhanced regional cooperation within the Tripartite or Continental Free Trade Areas our companiesâ€™ actual grab the opportunities that have been offered to us. I am excited to highlight our continued work on the development of Handbooks to inform investors and business partnerships of the countless opportunities for trade within the region. In 2019, CBC will be launching the SOURCE 21 handbook at the SOURCE 21 COMESA International Trade Fair in March 2019. This will provide businesses with information that can inform their transaction and logistical costs while trading certain products in the region, or looking to engage in partnerships within COMESA countries. I guarantee you it is only through some practical actions that we can catapult our private sector to become key players and participants in this agenda.
It has become evident that our growth as a Council should be anchored on good governance and sustainability. As part of the initiative, we adopted several ways for the mobilization of resources through services to industry and associations. It should be noted that CBCâ€™s core support trajectory has substantially grown under my 4 year tenure as the Chairperson. We have also elevated the caliber of services we provide to match the fees paid in membership, as well as positioning CBC as a project management entity for business. It should be noted that Institutional Capacity building does not stop here. We listened to the call from our membership to provide institutional strengthening of their associations, by exploring how to create strong value propositions for their memberships at a national level. In this regard, we shall close this year with training for our member associations on sustainability.
Our financial position also tells a compelling story- showing that our consolidated funding in 2018 is at 2.2 Million US$ in in comparison to 1.4 Million US$ in 2018. I can assure you that through such initiatives we can strengthen and boost our growth as an institution.
Indeed, the prospects for 2019 are exciting yet humungous as we continue to position ourselves as a growing institution, leveraging on our past successes and best practice experiences to create new opportunities for private sector competitiveness in COMESA. We are a learning organization, open to new ideas that help us to tailor our services to suit our membership needs.
I look forward to a strong working partnership with the CBC and our members in 2019!
Marday Venkatasamy, Chairman, CBC.