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Wednesday, 14 April 2010 20:33

Comesa Members Swap Investment Opportunities

By Mark Kapchanga

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 12, (East African) - The Common Market for Eastern and Southern African states converge in Cairo with more than 500 industry leaders, international investors and ministers from more than 19 countries in the continent to weigh emerging opportunities and challenges for doing business among member states.


The Comesa Investment Forum, whose primary aim will be to identify and assess the investment opportunities and implications associated with doing business in East and Southern Africa, will seek to encourage investment in these regions by addressing issues that are critical for doing business and define action-oriented strategies to mitigate risks facing it.


According to the Comesa Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya, the business landscape in Africa is continuously undergoing change, and the Comesa region, as a vibrant emerging investment destination, is the least understood market, where information is generally scarce or even stale.


"It is this that the investment summit will intend to address, specifically the opportunities on offer," he said.


Mr Ngwenya said the Comesa region and Africa in general could be the last frontier for development since the continent will soon be driving the world's economic expansion.


He cites the expanding level of consumption and per capital income as some of the drivers of growth. With a population of more than 430 million as at 2008 and an annual import bill of around $152 billion and an export bill of over $157 billion, Comesa forms a major marketplace for both internal and external trading.


Research shows that by 2015, Comesa which is Africa's largest economic community will be commanding a market size of over 500 million customers. Despite the squeeze on world economies from the global financial crisis, Comesa economies last year grew by an average of five per cent, way above the world's average of one per cent.


For the past 10 years, though, the region's economy has been between six and seven per cent, a clear indication that the fundamentals are on track.


A year ago, a conference on the North-South Corridor was held in Lusaka where more than $2.5 billion was raised to finance road and energy projects. Currently, studies are being carried out on the establishment of the Central Corridor that will run through Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Eastern Congo.


The Northern Corridor is expected to cover Djibouti, and Addis Ababa. Only last month, Comesa and the European Commission, during a meeting in Nairobi, committed more than $23 million to support the region's infrastructure.



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