COMESA - Harmonisation of Sectoral Policies

In conformity with the objectives stated in article 3 of the Treaty Establishing COMESA, member States have agreed to adhere to a wide number of principles. These principles include: inter-State cooperation, harmonization of policies and programmes among the member States and the active cooperation between neighbouring countries, and the promotion of a peaceful environment as a pre-requisite for their economic development. COMESA has, therefore, undertaken a number of initiatives to implement these principles – for example, the Programme on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region, initiated together with EAC and SADC.

The regional economic community also has a comprehensive gender policy, including an implementation plan and a Gender Unit for its member States. Another example is the COMESA infrastructure fund that intends to raise a minimum of $1 billion for bankable infrastructure projects covering transport, information communications technology, energy, and transboundary water in the near future.[1] The COMESA region has undertaken Road Sector Management and Funding Reforms where most of the countries have set up road funds and road development agencies in order to maintain both the regional and national road networks.

In November 2007, COMESA adopted the Model Energy Policy Framework to provide its member States with harmonized guidelines that would facilitate energy policy harmonization in the region. This Framework will improve efficiency and increase investment. In information and communications technology policies, COMESA is implementing a Cyber Security project, a policy and a model bill, and an implementation roadmap to assist member countries in the light of existing national, regional and international instruments, when they are developing policies on cyber security.[2]

A key objective of the regional economic community is related to physical and institutional connectivity. COMESA has, in this regard, set up a number of infrastructure progarmmes intended to promote and lay emphasis on regional coordination and harmonization in the various modes of transport, telecommunications and energy. The programmes, therefore, cover development of harmonized policies and regulatory environments, facilitation in the development of physical infrastructure and infrastructure facilities.  A number of key strategies have been identified to be employed to in order to achieve the infrastructure strategic objective indicated above. They include the following: development and revision of model policies and regulations (for Transport, ICT, and Energy); development of aid for trade programs along the major regional corridors including the establishment of One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs); development of legal and institutional frameworks for public private sector partnerships in order to increase  the private sector participation in infrastructure development; and Implementation of a communication strategy for the dissemination of information on development of infrastructure projects to all stakeholders.

Over the years, COMESA has developed, adopted and implemented a number of model policy and regulatory guidelines in transport, ICT and energy, trade and transport facilitation instruments and priority infrastructure projects. Moreover, a number of regional associations of regulatory authorities have also been established in order to facilitate policy and regulatory harmonization as well as fostering capacity building and information sharing.

[1] Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA Region Key Infrastructure Projects (Lusaka, Zambia, 2014). Available from    

[2] Africa Union, Status of integration in Africa (Addis Ababa, 2013). Available from (latest)_En.pdf.