• The distinguished Directors of the Board, recognizing the Heads of Private Sector Associations
• The CBC Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Sandra Uwera
• COMESA Assistant Secretary General, Amb. Dr. Kipyego Cheluget
• CBC Management,

I bid you Good morning.

First and foremost, I would like to extend cordial appreciation to the COMESA Business Council Secretariat, Development partners and all members for being a great part of the milestone that we have made in the past year.

On behalf of the CBC Board, it is my great privilege and pleasure to present to you the 2021 Annual Report and Financial Statement of the COMESA Business Council (CBC). As we closely follow the regional integration, industrialisation, and the Continental Free Trade Area developments at a regional and continental level, I would like to assure you that CBC remains at the helm of exploring opportunities for its members to benefit from partnerships, investment and influence points of view, as drivers of Private Sector development.

It will not be prudent to ignore the impact that COVID-19 has had to COMESA, Africa and world in general. I acknowledge the losses in every form that have been endured by different countries due to the Global pandemic and I applaud efforts by many leaders to safeguard the interests of their nations.

Though the pandemic has caused a standstill in a number of trade-related and economic matters, CBC has been adamant to at least make some progress in various areas – policy advocacy, business facilitation and membership development.


In 2021, our focus was mostly on engaging sector workgroups and the policymakers on pragmatic solutions to promote the growth of inclusive and sustainable industries in our respective economies and in the COMESA Region. During the first half of the year, six industry positions of the workgroups was developed culminating from sector workgroup meetings i.e. Digital Financial Services, Pharma-HealthCare, Agro industry (Food and Beverages; Tobacco and Seed), Manufacturing, Duty free Retail and Trade Facilitation. The positions were consolidated and fed into the development of the CBC Regional Advocacy Agenda 2021

In October 2021, CBC convened the Industry Technical Committee meeting which considered the CBC Regional Advocacy Agenda 2021. At the end of the meeting, the committee adopted CBC Regional Advocacy Agenda and forward to 15th COMESA Business Forum for further discuss and input from policy and decision makers.

In October 2021, CBC convened the 15th COMESA Business Forum with the objective of discussing key areas that will support industry recovery from the impact of COVID-19. The objective of the forum was to receive the input of policy makers and decision makers on the CBC Regional Advocacy Agenda and also additional measures to facilitate industry to recover from the impacts of COVID 19. The additional measures were received from 4 selected areas namely, Digital financial services, Industrial competitiveness and illicit Trade, implementation of product standards and SPS regulations and promotion of business linkages in COMESA region.

Furthermore, we have continued to participate and present our positions to the COMESA policy organs meetings; Technical Committees for Trade and Customs and the Sub Committee on Trade and Trade Facilitation.

In November, 2021, CBC presented the 15th Regional Business Declaration to 21st Summit of the COMESA Heads of State and Government . On this occasion, we received sound recognition from H.E President Kagame of Rwanda, and H.E President Sisi of Egypt on our key flagship programs on digital financial inclusion for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, anti-illicit trade and promoting private sector development within the reginal integration agenda.


During this year we are excited that, CBC partnered and participated in various meetings and conferences organized by key industry stakeholders and partners to advance advocacy agendas and leverage partnerships. This includes various Commonwealth Secretariat , International Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Council on Africa.


In our flagship programme, the Digital Financial Inclusion, one Business Case Report on Digital Payments was published during the course of the year. The business case report presents a justification for establishing legal frameworks and practical digital financial solutions. The Business Case was informed by multi sectoral engagements in 9 pilot countries.

We have held two (2) Regional Digital Financial Inclusion Public-Private dialogues were done in Rwanda and Zambia. The first COMESA Business Council (CBC) Digital Financial Inclusion Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) was held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 20th January 2021 to agree on the building blocks for a model policy, the COMESA Digital Integrated Common Payment Policy for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs). The Model Policy was presented and adopted by the meeting.

The 2nd CBC-AFRICA NENDA Digital Financial Inclusion Public Private Dialogue (PPD) was held on 27th July 2021. During the PPD the draft model policy for digital payments platform for MSMEs in COMESA and draft guidelines/Rulebook on the operation of the digital payments’ platform were adopted by stakeholders.

CBC is currently working on the business modelling for digital payment platform for MSMEs in COMESA region. This report will be presented in the Third Digital Financial Inclusion Dialogue, to be held on the 3rd December, 2021 as a virtual event, given the constraints on the forth wave of the COVID 19 variant.

Moreso, CBC is engaged with various stakeholders in terms of knowledge sharing and support for the project. This includes engagements with possible payment system integrators, partnership with the Africa Nenda, Trade Development Bank, and Glenbrook.


On Business Facilitation, our focus has been on increasing market information and spearheading business linkages platforms to facilitate partnerships and trade amongst businesses in COMESA. During the year, thirteen market intelligence profiles have been developed and disseminated to the public and private stakeholders in the region to inform partnerships and trade.


CBC carried out several engagements to facilitate linkages and partnerships at regional and global levels and two MoUs have been signed with the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) - Towards Forging New Pathways for Stronger US-Africa Engagements and AfricaNenda - to cooperate on implementation of the Digital Financial Inclusion project.


Over and above the workgroup meetings, CBC in collaboration with Feed the Future East Africa Market Systems Activity, a USAID project conducted a webinar with industry stakeholders towards enhancement of women’s access and effective participation in regional agricultural value chains, particularly in this pandemic period. The event brought together public, private and development stakeholders from regional and international markets. The conclusions and recommendations from the webinar fed into Industry position papers.


COMESA Business Council (CBC) in partnership with Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) held a conference on the implementation of the AfCFTA and women’s economic empowerment. Some of the key topics discussed at the conference included participation of Women in Business in the implementation of AfCFTA; economic Opportunities - Access to Markets and Finance for Women in Business; and supporting Informal Cross Border Trade under COMESA and towards AfCFTA. The conclusions and recommendations from the training fed into Industry position papers.

CBC in collaboration with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Organization for Standardization (ARSO), convened the virtual African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) stakeholders’ Training Workshop. The theme of the workshop was “Translating the AfCFTA Agreement for Business”. It was attended by members of CBC, business associations, manufacturers, development partners, export promotion councils, investment promotion agencies, and regional/international cooperating partners specialised in the AfCFTA agenda. The objective of the workshop was to train stakeholders on the Protocols on Trade in Goods under the AfCFTA Agreement with their specific annexes and how they are applicable to the movement of goods in the region.

Moreso, the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with CBC organised a virtual Global Trade Help Desk training workshop. The objective of the workshop was to help CBC members to use the TRADE HELP DESK to access information relevant to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The market information intend to assist MSMEs to bridge market information gaps. All in all, a total of 540 businesspeople and associations attended these trainings and awareness programmes in 2021.


During the course of the year, we had 4 new members join CBC (1 Association,3 Corporates). We are pleased to welcome our new members to the Business Council.

To keep our members abreast with current trends, and increase communication and engagement with members, CBC publishes bi-monthly reports, business insiders, research papers, newsletters and policy briefs that are widely circulated. This year, 1 Policy Brief, 7 Newsletters and 2 Digital Financial Inclusion insiders were developed and disseminated to stakeholders.


The focus is on strengthening the governance and institutional framework of the institution. The following was the scope of focus for the year 2021.
a) CBC has finalised Performance Improvement Roadmap (PIRM), in partnership with the International Trade Centre, which informed the revised Strategy Implementation Plan of the CBC Strategy 2018- 2022.
b) CBC Team organised held staff retreat on 31st August -1st September 2021 to continue building up and strengthening CBC team for the current and future tasks. The team reviewed the implementation of CBC strategic plan 2018-2022 and the capacity of the secretariat.
c) CBC is implementing its Business Continuity plan as guided by the Corporate Communication Manual for continued operations i.e. offsite working, hybrid meetings and use of digital models communicating with stakeholders.
d) CBC, as part of its CSR initiatives, visited women who are into arts and crafts and supported their activities.
e) CBC received ten scholarships from the Gates Foundation to support technical capacity skills development in Digital Financial Services. The CBC team is currently carrying out the courses as part of the professional development.


CBC’s financial position remains strong; during the period January to December 2021.

CBC has four core funding streams which are membership and sponsorship fees and four funding partners namely, Centre for International Private Enterprise, International Trade Centre and the Gates Foundation and two new partners in 2021 secured namely BDI- Confederation of German Industries and EU- Africa-Rise, EU Development Fund.

In 2021, the COMESA Business Council earned US$371,959 from private sector (membership, business facilitation and sponsorship), US$843,853 from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and this brought the total grant funds for the year to US$ US$1, 206,053. The total consolidated expenditure during the period was US$1,197,676. This resulted into a surplus of US$ 8,377.

CBC’s financial position remains strong, and sustainability and efficiency remain integral as we grow.
Finally, I wish to thank all our members, partners, stakeholders, my fellow board members, management and employees of the CBC for their concerted efforts towards the growth of the institution.

I present to you, the 2021 CBC Annual Institutional Report.

Message from the Chairperson on COVID-19


CBC Policy Positions 2019

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