Common Market For Eastern and Southern Africa – Definition

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Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Definition

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, also known as COMESA, was founded in December 1994 with the agenda to replace the initial Preferential Trade Area from the 1980s. The organization was established to serve as a foundation of free, independent countries that have come into an agreement to develop their human and natural resources in support of improving people’s lives.

The main idea of founding the COMESA was to be on the formation of a significant economic as well as trading docket in order to get through trade barriers that many individuals face. In this article, the primary goal of COMESA has been the creation of a revolutionary economic as well as a trading unit in order to overcome trade barriers that different states face. The purpose of the COMESA reflects its priorities to enhance economic development in the world.

A Little More on What is Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

Mindful of the overriding demand to create Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and bearing in mind that the organization among the representatives of the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern African states, the COMESA was the first step toward the establishing a platform that would open more economic opportunities to the Eastern countries. The COMESA was a step toward recalling the provisions of the Treaty for the Establishment of the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern African states to the main effect that various measures need to be taken to create the treaty. Therefore, in 2008, the organization agreed to have an expanded free-trade region that includes members of two new African trade blocks, alongside the East African Community, in addition to the Southern Africa Development Community. To some extent, COMESA considered being a boosting scheme toward tourism.


COMESA seeks to be a fully integrated competitive regional economic community in which there is broad economic prosperity exuded by high living standards of the people with political as well as social stability in which the goods, services, labor as well as capital are freely moved across different geographical borders. These activities must be within the jurisdiction and control of various leaders who are termed as organs. They are such as:

Heads of different states- these individuals serve as the primary policymakers in charge of the operations of the organization across various sectors. The authority is led by an elected chairman who will serve for a specific period. As of 2014, the position was held by Mr. Joseph Kabila Kabange who is the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The position was later taken by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn. Apart from that, the body is trusted to offer general policy direction as well as controlling the overall performance of the principal functions of the COMESA. As such, the COMESA Authority has been striving to meet in annual Summits that are often held in different states of its members. Even though the annual meeting is based on the agenda to discuss some of the issues affecting the economies of the parties, the COMESA can hold an extraordinary session if there’s a request by a member of the Authority. This decision is usually based on one-third of the total members available in the union. In 2000, the COMESA held such a Summit at its official launching. Such events are usually held in different states with the approval of the Government as well as the COMESA Secretariat. The joint responsibility usually caters to the demands of the members who need the event held.

Usually, the COMESA makes decisions by consensus. Even though the meetings are usually held in closed sessions, leaders of the COMESA provide a communiqué recording regarding their choices. As such, the Authority may issue declarations as well as statements regarding matters of specific concern. The Authority takes these directives and since they are binding on various state members as well as other organs in which they are addressed.

  •         The COMESA Council of Minister- the COMESA Council of Minister must ensure that all decisions have been made based on various recommendations that were presented by the Intergovernmental Committee on their way forward regarding the implementation of the COMESA integration programmes. The committee monitors multiple activities such as the supervision of the Secretariat.
  •         The COMESA Court of Justice- the COMESA Court of Justice was founded to foster a paperless digital courtroom following a sign up with CaseLines, the leading global provider of digital evidence management. The implementation was in line with the theme of COMESA-Toward digital economic integration.

CaseLines software gets rid of the paperwork that was initially required in court by introducing a digital platform that has tools which allow the creation as well as the presentation of a digital bundle such as multi-media evidence. At the same time, collaboration devices for enhanced pre-trial preparation as well as secure roles validated video conferencing for virtual hearings have been made. Today, this platform can cover up to 21 member states of the COMESA. In cases where a member State’s court is analyzing the application of the Treaty, the union may request the Court’s opinion regarding the matter. If the court originates from an area where there’s no appeal, then the high court of COMESA is needed to go through the question before addressing the impending issues. As such, the civil remedies have to be exhausted prior to bringing up the matter to the CJ of COMESA. With that said, the COMESA Court has several jurisdictions leading COMESA employees as well as third parties against the COMESA and its institutions. In other instances, it may also act as a tribunal on an issue that may arise from a contract. The jurisdiction of the COMESA Court has the vision to be a reliable world-class court for the resolution of disputes in regards to the COMESA Treaty. The mission of the organization is to promote as well as uphold the law via an accessible and fair process of adjudication.

The COMESA together with the Committee of Governors of Central Banks held their 21st annual meeting in Lusaka, in 2015. The officials reviewed some of the activities that were undertaken by the organization under the COMESA Monetary Institute as well as the COMESA Clearing House for fostering monetary cooperation.

Some of the bodies that have recommended the COMESA Court include

  •         The Inter-Governmental Committee
  •         The Consultative Committee in charge of the Business Community
  •         The COMESA Secretariat

To deepen its regional integration as well as harmonize the space of policies in the community, in order to reduce the overhead costs of conducting business, COMESA launched the Customs Union created to move forward the programs for customs cooperation and deal with the reduction of documentation as well as unnecessary customs procedures. Apart from that, the Union ensures that the best prices are drawn coupled with viable processes.

Additional COMESA Institutions are such as:

COMTEL Project – The COMTEL Project refers to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa program focused on establishing a regional telecommunications infrastructure for the members of the COMESA through a fiber backbone. The project will help members of the different states to get rid of various issues such as the satellite links that they were using for their transit traffic especially in between Europe and Asia.

COMESA Leather Institute- The COMESA Leather and Leather Products Institute is centrally situated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The organization was established through the Charter signing of the prestigious COMESA Member States not only in Swaziland but Mbabane as well.

The PTA Bank (Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank) in Bujumbura, Burundi) – Founded in 1985, the PTA Bank is currently known as the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank. It’s a treaty-oriented development financial institution with assets worth more than us$ 5 billion and a primary mandate to finance trade and foster business including regional economic integration through trade finance.

The COMESA Association of Commercial Banks- The Commercial Association of Commercial Banks was formed in 1998. It’s an institution of Preferential Trade Area for organizations in Eastern as well as the Southern African States. The name came up within a broad framework of the COMESA.

COMESA Re-Insurance Company (ZEP-RE) – This is an institution of the COMESA, and it was formed by a contractual agreement of the heads of different states such as Mbabane and Swaziland in 1992. The head office is situated in Nairobi Kenya. The objectives of the firm include fostering the establishment of the insurance as well as reinsurance industry in the sub-region of COMESA and promoting the growth of national and retention capabilities in different sectors.

The Regional Investment Agency in Cairo, Egypt – RIA is one of COMESA’s investment firms focused on optimizing investment as well as trade opportunities in different states through creating and establishing alliances as well as networks and co-operating with diverse communities to provide more investment opportunities to the world.

References for Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa – COMESA

Academic Research on Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

  • The common market for Eastern and Southern Africa and Kenya’s export trade, Wanjala Musila, J. (2004). International Journal of Social Economics, 31(1/2), 67-77. This article was published to find answers regarding the use of the gravity model in order to examine the effects of the COMESA on the Kenyan exports. As such, it was concluded that COMESA had created numerous trade unions and business opportunities especially when it comes to portfolio diversification. Research indicates that the COMESA has assisted in improving Kenya’s export rankings. Also, in the same effort, the organization has helped the country to attain its Millennium Development Objectives.
  • The dynamics of rural vulnerability to global change: the case of southern Africa, Leichenko, R. M., & O’brien, K. L. (2002). Mitigation and adaptation strategies for global change, 7(1), 1-18. This article addresses research on the dynamics of rural vulnerability to global changes in the case of Southern Africa. The study delved further into the agricultural impact of climate change as well as the global changes associated with global economic activities and their impact on food systems. It was stated that although some agriculturalists are often in a position to utilize these climatic changes to their advantage, others are susceptible to the same weather conditions. The research demonstrates that the combination of global as well as national economic changes are altering the context under which the Southern African farmers can conduct their farming activities.
  • Southern Africa in transition: prospects and problems facing regional integration, Gibb, R. (1998). The Journal of Modern African Studies, 36(2), 287-306. This research paper was published to disintegrate the Southern Africa transition including problems facing the region and their impact on regional integration. It was concluded that South Africa’s race elections in 1994 marked a huge turning point for economic relations in the entire continent. The local power that was initially tried to separate people were invited to the regional organization. The ending of the apartheid and other similar changes was examined to determine the future of the transitions made throughout the 1980s as well as early 1990s.
  • The intensity of trade creation and trade diversion in COMESA, ECCAS, and ECOWAS: A comparative analysis, Musila, J. W. (2005). Journal of african Economies, 14(1), 117-141.  This research paper applies the international gravity model that predicts the bilateral trade flows associated with the economic sizes between two sizes. The model was introduced to the field in 1954. Since then, it has been used as a basic model for trade between countries. This discussion estimates the intensity of trade creation as well as trade diversion in ECOWAS, ECCAS, in addition to COMESA. By utilizing yearly data garnered between 1991 and 1998, it was established that the depth of the trade varies from one region to the next. The intensity also changed from one time to the other. The results suggested that the depth of trade creation is slightly higher in ECOWAS and the COMESA.
  • Monetary Integration Initiatives in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA): Sorting the Overlapping Membership*, Buigut, S. (2006). International Finance, 9(3), 295-315. This article highlights the different overlaps in memberships when it comes to monetary integration projects in the Easter as well as the Southern Africa regions. It was established that this is a huge stumbling block to intensive integration. For instance, a policy of the Eastern African Community customs union stated that there would be a violation in COMESA and SADC free trade contracts. To find solutions to this issue, the paper utilizes cluster analysis to assign to different states the most viable monetary union initiative that’s based on the criteria of real nominal convergence.
  • Regional Co-Operation in Sub-Saharan Africa, With Special Reference to Southern Africa, Leistner, E. (1997). Africa Insight, 27(2), 112-123. This paper discusses regional integration in sub-Saharan Africa including cooperation as well as integration to reverse the economic decline of the countries while promoting development as well as strengthening the continent’s position in the universe. Until recently, the expectations have been disappointed. Following an overview entailing cooperation as well as integration schemes situated in West and East Africa, it was concluded that the East African regional organizations such as CMA and COMESA are involved in the economic development of these regions.
  • Methodologies for Estimating Informal Crossborder Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa: Kenya/Uganda Border, Tanzania, and Its Neighbors, Malawi and Its …, Ackello-Ogutu, C. (1996).  This paper will serve as a highly useful guide for needs assessment and planning, data set collection, further research, and policy formulation on the discipline of unofficial cross-border trade. The research analysis focused on techniques that reflect the author’s concern regarding how variations that exist among different regions, as well as states, are ignored by researchers. The applied data collection techniques were such as border site selection and border observation used for tracking goods. It was established that random sampling technique was fit in Southern as well as Eastern parts of the world.
  • Appraising regional integration in southern Africa, Nyirabu, M. (2004). African Security Studies, 13(1), 21-32. This article highlights the importance of appraising regional integration in Southern Africa from the moment it received its independence. Leaders of Africa hold that regional integration is a significant way for collectively harnessing resources to penetrate international markets while attracting foreign investment directly into the financial industry. The extensive experience that these regions have suggested that regional co-operation has often faced extensive problems that pose as obstacles.
  • Economic partnership agreements between Sub‐Saharan Africa and the EU: a development perspective, Hinkle, L. E., & Schiff, M. (2004). World Economy, 27(9), 1321-1333. This article borrows a lot from Hinkle and Schiff (2003). As such, it vastly analyzes the scheduled Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU as well as the Sub-Saharan Africa when it comes to the development structure. Research does not take a significant position on if Sub-Saharan Africa should be given access to join the EU. Instead, the study begins from the point where it is assumed that the process of establishing EPAs is a bit reversed.
  • Partner or hegemon? South Africa in Africa: part one, AhwirengObeng, F., & McGowan, P. J. (1998). Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 16(1), 5-38. This research seeks to answer questions regarding the 1996 macro-economic report that the government of South Africa released in search of a strategy that would be implemented into the nation’s economy. It was noted that the three policies namely growth, employment, and redistribution were the main strategies aimed at revolutionizing the industry and growing the economy. The procedures capitalized on job creation because it shall reduce unemployment thereby accelerating economic growth.

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