The Authority of Heads of State and government. It is the supreme-policy making organ of COMESA. The authority meets once a year, but may hold an extraordinary meeting on request of any member of the authority.
The Council of Ministers. It comprises the designated ministers from member states. It meets once a year. It manages the affairs of the community. It monitors and ensures the proper functioning and development of COMESA.
The Court of Justice. It ensures proper interpretation and application of the provisions of the treaty. it was established for settling disputes arising from the community. E.g between Kenya and Egypt over export of cement in 2004
The committee of Governors of Central Banks. Governors of banks of member states form a committee to manage COMESA clearing house and ensure implementation of the monetary and financial co-operation programmes.
The Intergovernmental Committee. A committee of permanent secretaries from member states which develops and manages programmes and action plans in all areas of cooperation except in the financial sector.
The Secretariat. Based in Lusaka, Zambia, it provides technical support and advisory services to the member states and coordinates the activities of COMESA. The current secretary general is Erastus Mwencha since 1997
The Technical Committees. E.g the Committee on natural resources and Environment, the Committee on Agricultural Matters, the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigrations Matters, the Committee on Transport and Communication, the Committee on Labour, Culture and Social Affairs.
The consultative committee. This comprises the business community and other stakeholders. It provides a link between the business community and other COMESA stakeholders, monitors implementation of the necessary provisions of the treaty, consults and receives reports from other interested groups and Participates in the technical committees and makes recommendation.
Specialized independent institutions. The Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank) based in Nairobi, Kenya, the PTA reinsurance company, Nairobi, Kenya, The COMESA clearing house, Harare, Zimbabwe, COMESA association of Commercial Banks, Harare, Zimbabwe, COMESA leather institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Achievements of COMESA
It provides its members a wide, harmonized and more competitive market for internal and external trading.
It provides member states with a rational way of exploiting natural resources for their welfare.
COMESA has established harmonized monetary, banking and financial policies in the region.
It has improved the administration of transport and communication to ease movement of goods, services and people.
It has ensured cooperation in the promotion of peace, security and stability among member states in order to enhance economic development in the region.
COMESA has strengthened relations between the Common Market and the rest of the world while ensuring that the members adopt a common position in international fora.
Through the Authority of Heads of State and Government, COMESA directs and controls the affairs of the common market.
Customs cooperation has been achieved through a unified computerized customs network that operates across the region. The harmonization of macro-economic and monetary policies throughout the region has been achieved.
It has provided room for greater industrial productivity and competitiveness due to its large market.
It has encouraged member states to practice good governance, accountability and respect for human rights. Burundi and Rwanda were subjected to these demands before they were admitted to COMESA.
It has contributed to employment of many people in the region.
COMESA has promoted increased agricultural production and exploitation of natural resources.
The organization has ensured a more efficient and reliable transport and communication infrastructure.
Challenges that face COMESA in its operations
Membership to other bodies. Members of COMESA are also members of EAC and SADC. This leads to divided loyalty.
Personality differences. For example, presidents Museveni of Uganda and El Bashir of Sudan were involved in disagreements in 2004 over rebel activities.
Boundary conflicts. This has been witnessed between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Civil wars. Wars have been witnessed in DRC, Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.Such inevitable wars undermine the operations of the common markets.
Constant quarrels among member states over trading rights. For example Kenya and Egypt quarreled over duty-free cement dumped in Kenya by Egypt, on which Kenya wanted to charge duty.
Poor transport between member states. This hampers movement of goods in the region.
Pulling out of Tanzania and Namibia. The two founder members have opted for the South African Development Cooperation (SADC). This has undermined COMESA.
Some members undermine their neighbours. For example Uganda and Rwanda have been accused of participating in the civil wars in the DRC.
Reasons why Africa has been unable to achieve full economic integration
The problem of poor transport and communication has impeded flow of trade. This has affected all previous and existing economic groupings.
There is uneven distribution of resources in Africa. Some countries are endowed with strategic natural resources like oil and fertile soils while others are impoverished with no resources. This hinders integration.
All member states of economic co-operations suffer from budgetary deficit and balance of payment problems. They therefore lack adequate foreign exchange required for international trade.
There is constant political interference by unenlightened leaders
There has been rivalry among member states of trading co-operations.
Africa has had a poor share from world trade as prices on world market are dictated by industrialized countries.
The advent of multipartism after the end of the cold war and the subsequent introduction of Structural Adjustment Programmes has crippled the performance of economic integration in Africa.
Inability of member states to interfere in the internal affairs of other states even where there is need.
Failure by member states to contribute fully to the organizations.
The colonial legacy. Many member states still depend heavily on the West for manufactured goods, machinery, technology, donations and ideas.
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