BUJUMBURA, Jan. 26 — Tunisia is expected to be admitted to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) as its 20th member state in a COMESA summit to be held from April 18 to 19 in Burundi, a COMESA’s senior official said Wednesday.
“The forthcoming summit is very important because Tunisia will be admitted as the 20th member state of COMESA. Besides, Somalia will come back to COMESA,” said COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya in Burundian capital Bujumbura. The summit of the heads of state and government of COMESA will be preceded by other meetings that will kick off on April 9, which include the Council of Ministers’ meeting and a meeting of the COMESA Business Council, said Ngwenya who is visiting Burundi for finalizing preparations for the summit.
The COMESA summit will coincide with the summit of First Ladies from COMESA member states, he said. He indicated that all is set for Burundi to host the summit as hotels and other needed infrastructures are available to host the summit. In July 2017, Ngwenya said in a letter to the Burundian trade minister Pelate Niyonkuru that Burundi could not host the COMESA summit.
Ngwenya raised logistical issues including possible insufficiency of accommodation for participants, large conference rooms, vehicles and poor internet facilities. Niyonkuru however said the reasons in the letter are unfounded. A COMESA delegation made up of seven officials from the Secretariat of the orgnization arrived in Burundi in December 2017 to assess preparations for the 20th summit. Formed in 1994, COMESA has 19 member states with the population of over 389 million. Its main focus is on the formation of a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers that are faced by individual states. – XINHUA