Taking place on the 12th and 13th of April in Egypt's Sharm el Sheikh Red Sea resort, the Comesa Investment Forum will be hosting senior government ministers, global business leaders and many of the world's top economists and development experts. Over the two-day forum, they will be discussing and attempting to define the best strategies for attracting foreign direct investment flows to their region. These flows will serve to underpin the economic momentum that the Comesa region has already recorded over the last decade.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) is Africa's largest regional economic community. It has 19 member states* and represents a market of nearly half a billion consumers. Its members' geographic diversity stretches from Egypt, at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East and Sudan, Africa's largest country; through the Horn of Africa and East and Central Africa to Southern Africa, the Indian Ocean islands and the tiny kingdom of Swaziland, located at the heart of Africa's largest economy, South Africa.
As Sindiso Ngwenya, Comesa's secretary-general, notes: "Comesa as an organisation is committed to upholding economic and social progress to ensure regional integration, and the governments of the individual Comesa region will have their role to play. By attending this forum, you will see that Comesa is truly open for business and this vast largely untapped market is ripe for investment."
Established in 1994, as a successor to the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), Comesa has made considerable progress in developing the free movement of capital, labour, goods and services across the borders of its member states. This has undoubtedly attracted foreign investors who are provided the opportunity of developing cross-border enterprises and intra-Africa trade.
Less well understood, but equally important, has been work undertaken by Comesa's Regional Investment Agency (RIA) to build synergies, networks, alliances and cooperation with the seven other Africa regional economic communities (as recognised by the African Union) that are moving towards, a common pan-African economic vision.
For this conference, Comesa RIA is working closely with the host governments' Ministry of Investment and the country's...