ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE European Union (EU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have signed a K54 million (â‚¬4.485 million) technical co-operation facility to help support the implementation of regional integration programmes in Eastern and Southern Africa and the India Ocean (EA-SA-IO) region.
EU has committed about â‚¬1.3 billion under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) regional indicative programme for the EA-SA-IO region signed in June last year for the period 2014 to 2020.
EU ambassador Alessandro Mariani said the support will help regional economic communities and their member states to further develop economic integration, maintain peace, security, stability and preserve natural resources in the region.
Speaking during the signing ceremony yesterday, Mr Mariani said the support will allow for effective design and implementation of projects funded by the EU and also create awareness activities such as policy dialogue through the holding of meetings to ensure that member states are better informed on developmental and trade-related issues.
The technical co-operation facility will provide technical support for studies, sector surveys, stakeholdersâ€™ consultations, communication and monitoring activitiesÂ in various development areas such as trade integration, migration, maritime security and wildlife conservation.
Under the support, COMESA and the East African Community will each acquire â‚¬1,525,000 while Intergovernmental Authority on Development will get â‚¬1,435,000 and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) â‚¬900,000.
Mr Mariani said out of about â‚¬1.3 billion, â‚¬600 will be used for blending and leveraging of funds to enable the implementation of regional infrastructure projects while â‚¬205 million will be for selected cross-regional actions and â‚¬450 million for the specific envelopes of the five regional economic communities.
Earlier, COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya saidÂ it is encouraging to witness organisations such as the EU taking keen interest in supportingÂ economic integration in the EA-SA-IO region and in particular the COMESA sub-region.
â€œIt is not an understatement that without the support of EU, the achievements made by COMESA in regional integration would have been less than optimal. COMESA already has a framework to ensure that we deliver time-bound results and demonstrate value for money for this facility,â€ Mr Ngwenya said.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka