The 8th COMESA Business Forum began yesterday at the lakeside resort convention centre of Munyonyo, and it promises an extensive program for participants. This forum precedes the 16th Summit of COMESA Heads of State and Government.
Top-rated speakers will cover a range of topics from Africa’s Business Landscape over the Green Economy – a new way to do business in Africa – to how best to enhance competitiveness, agriculture and food security, and infrastructure developments, to boosting intra-Africa trade relations. Tourism, of course, is not missing from the agenda, following the success of COMESA’s first Sustainable Tourism Development Forum in Nairobi two months ago, with Amos Wekesa, President of the Uganda Tourism Association, speaking on the constraints of the sector in Eastern Africa while this correspondent will reflect on the forthcoming UNWTO General Assembly next year, co-hosted between Zambia and Zimbabwe in Livingstone and Victoria Falls.
Key corporate sponsors like Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines were joined by such global heavyweights as Nestle, besides support from the European Union and USAID, all keen to see the private sector evolve as the driving force of economic development and poverty alleviation in Africa. Of particular importance this year is the recognition of women in business and their contributions to economic stability and progress as well as that of the youth, which is being encouraged to become the next generation of business women and create jobs through entrepreneurship rather than remaining job seekers.
Alongside the two-day forum a business exhibition will take place at Munyonyo where participants will have the opportunity to see a wide range of services and products on display showcasing the progress made within the 19 member trade block in recent years, incorporating the latest technologies in manufacturing, processing, as well as state of the art concepts in marketing and packaging.
COMESA is the Common Market for East and Southern Africa. Its mission is to endeavour to achieve sustainable economic and social progress in all Member States through increased co-operation and integration in all fields of development particularly in trade, customs and monetary affairs, transport, communication and information, technology, industry and energy, gender, agriculture, environment and natural resources.