Malawi leader in Uganda for Comesa summit: Says SMEs critical for economic development

President Joyce Banda on Thursday said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are critical for socio-economic development of the country.

The President was speaking at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) when she was leaving for a two-day Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit to be held in Kampala, Uganda.

She said the summit would provide a platform to promote local products that can be exported to other countries.

“Small and medium enterprises are critical for socio-economic development of the country. This summit will provide a platform to promote our products that can be exported to other countries,” President Banda explained.

President Banda also told journalists that Malawi last year realized about K308 million from the exportation of local products, saying this could improve if the country promoted its products to other countries.

Joyce Banda: Off to Kampala

“The country realized about K308 million last year from the exports. The amount can improve once we have intensified promoting those products,” she said.

Malawi currently holds the Chairmanship position following the election of late Bingu wa Mutharika at the summit the country hosted last year in Lilongwe. Because of this position which Malawi still holds until the end of the summit when Yoweri Musevi will take over, President Joyce Banda will chair the summit.

Joyce Banda is the first and second female President in COMESA bloc and Africa respectively.

This year’s summit will be held under the theme “Enhancing Intra-Comesa Trade through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development”.

COMESA traces its genesis to the mid 1960s. The idea of regional economic co-operation received considerable impetus from the buoyant and optimistic mood that characterised the post-independence period in most of Africa. This was one of pan-African solidarity and collective self-reliance born of a shared destiny.

It was under these circumstances that, in 1965, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) convened a ministerial meeting of the then newly independent states of Eastern and Southern Africa to consider proposals for the establishment of a mechanism for the promotion of sub-regional economic integration.

The meeting, which was held in Lusaka, Zambia, recommended the creation of an Economic Community of Eastern and Central African states.

The Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and southern Africa (PTA) Treaty envisaged its transformation into a common Market and, in conformity with this, the treaty establishing the COMESA, was signed on  November 5, 1993 in Kampala, Uganda and was ratified a year later in Lilongwe, Malawi on  December 8, 1994.

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