Rwanda supports COMESA’s digital agenda – PM Ngirente
Rwanda deeply values the role of COMESA in expanding market integration for its members, and remains committed to the regional bloc’s vision, according to Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.
He was addressing regional leaders at the 20th Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Summit in Lusaka, Zambia that started in yesterday.
The theme for this year’s summit, “COMESA: Towards Digital Economic Integration,” is designed to rally member States towards the full adoption of digital technologies.
The bloc’s Secretariat says the focus is on establishing seamless processes across the 19-state COMESA region to enable ease of doing business or trade and to enhance regional integration using ICT as a tool.
“To make COMESA’s digital economic integration achievable and meaningful to our people, additional efforts, resources and closer collaboration are needed. Rwanda stands ready to play our part, working together with member states, to make this dream of COMESA digital economy a reality.”
In Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation, 2017/2024, Digital Economic Integration is one of the top priorities, he said, adding that the country is working to apply digital solutions to improving service delivery in both public and private sectors.
According to Ngirente, the country also aims at ensuring digital literacy for all youth (16 to 30 years) and at least 60% of adults by 2024, by implementing a national digital literacy program.
“There is no better time to focus on this important regional objective. Forty-nine African countries have so far signed the Continental Free Trade Area. we need to be ready to harness the benefits that come with this new development.”
“Integrating digital technologies, will add value to ongoing efforts of COMESA member states to grow and diversify their economies, enhance business climate, and attract more trade and investment.”
In his welcoming statement, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia noted that the positive strides the bloc has made since the establishment of the Preferential Free Trade Area in the early 1980s, and subsequent transformation into the COMESA in 1994 speak for themselves.
As a region, President Lungu said, “we have expanded” in terms of membership to become one of the most populous regional economic bodies with membership that spans from the north to the south, and among the eight recognized building blocks for Africa’s economic integration process.
The bloc’s membership is, he said, poised to grow “and as we witness the admission of Tunisia and re-admission of Somalia,” this will bring membership to 21, from the current 19.
Lungu said: “We have worked tirelessly indeed together to establish a politically and economically stable regional environment, and as such gained confidence among cooperating partners and investors.”