Monday, September 13, 2021: The 8th COMESA Annual Research Forum began today with close to 100 participants from the regional governments, the academia, think tanks and the private sector attending. The forum will discuss emerging topical issues in regional integration under the theme: Rethinking Trade and Doing Business in the Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic”.
Keynote speakers at the opening ceremony included Mr Paul Akiwumi, the Director, Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes, the Secretary General of COMESA, Ms Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, the Assistant Secretary General of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), Mr. Escipión J. Oliveira Gómez and the Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie,
Eight research papers will be presented during the four-day forum, and thereafter peer-reviewed before they are published in the 10th edition of COMESA flagship publication: Key Issues in Regional Integration. Policy briefs will also be extracted from finalized papers and published.
Ms Kapwepwe said the theme of the forum is inspired by the fundamental need to build resilience around productivity, productive capacities and sustained regional trade even amid the worst of shocks.
“Indeed, enhancing regional trade remains a key strategy to recovery of our economies. But the conduct of trade must shift away from the “business as usual” to take a new path guided by the dictates of the 4th Industrial revolution bolstered by policies to encourage innovation and integration to propel the region into new frontiers of business and human development,” she said.
Mr Akiwumi noted that COVID-19 has reinforced the need for African countries to be self-sufficient and to enhance close regional cooperation.
“I believe that targeted research and policy analysis, and action to strengthen economic integration and trade both within COMESA and within the other RECs are essential,” he said.
Prof. Nnadozie said the ACBF will continue to develop Africa Capacity Reports, Occasional papers, Development memoirs, and Policy Briefs, to help countries and development partners have requisite data on what is working and not in order to inform subsequent capacity development interventions, in the wake of covid-19, that promote better economic management, trade and regional integration
As part of the forum, the COMESA Innovation Awards will be conducted. Under this initiative, three innovations have been selected for showcasing. The best innovations will be awarded during the COMESA Summit scheduled for November this year.
This year’s Research Forum is funded by COMESA; the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS); and The European Union through the TradeCom II Capacity Building Programme.