Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema has expressed his pride as Zambia assumes the chairmanship of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), highlighting the trust and confidence placed in the country by fellow member nations. The handover ceremony took place during the 22nd COMESA summit held in Lusaka, Zambia.
President Hichilema, who is also the Chair of the new bureau of the regional economic bloc, emphasized his vision for the region and outlined his priorities for the coming year. He commended the outgoing chairperson, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, for his achievements in leading COMESA. President Hichilema urged member states to leverage the collective resources and diverse endowments of the region to foster greater cooperation and integration.
During his maiden COMESA speech, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwela called for the expedited regional integration, stressing its significance in achieving sustainable development for member states. He emphasized the need for unity in countering external forces that aim to manipulate the Africa Continental Free Trade Area for their own advantage.
The 22nd Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lusaka was marked by discussions on critical issues such as promoting intra-regional trade, addressing climate change, fostering industrialization, enhancing value addition, and ensuring peace and security. President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi was appointed as the Vice Chair, preparing for the hosting of the next Summit in his country next year.
The summit also witnessed the swearing-in of Dr. Mohamed Kadar from Egypt as the new Assistant Secretary General of COMESA, responsible for programs. In addition, four journalists were recognized for their outstanding contributions with the COMESA Media Awards.
The elevation of Zambia to the chairmanship of COMESA signifies a new chapter in regional cooperation and economic integration. President Hichilema’s leadership brings hope for a thriving COMESA that prioritizes the prosperity and well-being of its member states. The commitment expressed by leaders at the summit underscores the collective determination to overcome challenges, foster integration, and propel the region toward sustainable development.