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Comesa births strategies to address growth disparities

 The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region has experienced a robust annual real gross domestic product growth of close to 6.5 per cent, a regional meeting heard yesterday. But the forum was told that the same has not led to the expected economic transformation of the region.

Industry Principal secretary Betty Maina said that the disparity is as a result of preoccupation with low value-added products and trading in primary products and natural resources.

Addressing delegates at the joint opening of Comesa Technical Meetings on industry on one hand and infrastructure transport, ICT and energy on the other yesterday, Maina said the affected products are mainly those with few forward and backward linkages to the rest of the economy. She cited mineral production which is both capital and technology intensive as some of the sectors that contribute to jobless growth in the region.

“Despite regional integration being of special importance in Africa, Comesa member states still trade more than 90 per cent with other parts of the world due to lack of industrial diversification and products` complementarity amongst themselves,” she said.

Job creation

“Consequently, the low-level of intra-Comesa trade, which has not broken the 10 per cent threshold of total exports over the years, is a reflection of a low-level of industrialisation. This limits the level of intra and inter-trade and the extent of quality job creation needed to reduce poverty.”

Comesa’s three-day technical meetings on industry and joint committee meetings on infrastructure have been taking place since Monday this week in Nairobi.

The meeting discussed the Draft Action Plan on the implementation of the Comesa Industrial Strategy and reviewed the regional guidelines on local content policy. The two documents will be submitted to the ministers of industry who will be attending the 11th Joint Comesa Technical Committee on Infrastructure in Nairobi between today and tomorrow.

Ministries are expected to consider the progress made in the implementation of the infrastructure soft and physical projects in transport, ICT and energy sub-sectors.

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