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Zambia Committed to Africa’s Regional Integration: Official

Zambia on Wednesday called on African countries to develop their economies by properly manage natural resources and accelerate regional integration.

The Zambian government is committed to supporting Africa’s economic integration and is promoting the creation of regional value chains to increase the value of the continent’s vast resources, said Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga.

African countries should ensure that their policies and strategies are coherent, consistent and complementary to support the overall goal of building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, he said.

“Our goal as a continent is to overcome barriers that hinder investment and trade within Africa. Let us build productive capacities to utilize the abundant natural resources and forge partnerships to explore opportunities available and renew our commitment to strengthening our economies through industrial development,” he said at the 16th business forum of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) that is comprised of 21 member states.

The one-day forum, organized by the COMESA Business Council, was held ahead of the 22nd COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government to be launched on Thursday in the Zambian capital of Lusaka.

The theme of the forum — Economic Integration for a Thriving COMESA Anchored on Green Investment, Value Addition and Tourism — is in line with the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063, Mulenga said.

The minister said Africa needs to overcome barriers that hinder investment and trade in the continent, and that the persistence of high poverty levels and unemployment are a contrast to the continent’s rich natural resources.

Marday Venkatasamy, president of the COMESA Business Council, said the forum is expected to come up with specific measures to accelerate the recovery of member states from the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters caused by climate change.

Venkatasamy said despite the impact of the pandemic, the regional bloc has remained resilient and presented enormous growth potential.

During the forum, participants said the private sector has a pivotal role to play in driving the sustainable development in the region.

COMESA Secretary-General Chileshe Kapwepwe said public-private sector partnership is important for increasing trade in the region.

She said the COMESA secretariat is working with the COMESA Business Council on several initiatives to promote private sector development in the region.

She further said that the promotion of regional value chains is important for regional integration.

Source : English News