The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: Uganda Takes Over Comesa Chair

President Yoweri Museveni yesterday took over the chairmanship of the nineteen member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) economic bloc.

He took over from the outgoing chair, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, who handed over the chairpersonship during the 16th summit of the COMESA Heads of State and government.

Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi is representing President Paul Kagame at the summit taking place at the Speke Resort Hotel Munyonyo in Kampala, Uganda.

"African economies are too fragmented," President Museveni said, and this makes it hard for the continent to attract foreign direct investments."

The Ugandan President underscored the need for integration of African countries through trading blocs like COMESA and the EAC.

COMESA is a regional grouping of 19 African countries, with a potential market of over 400 million people and a combined GDP of $799 billion by 2010, making it one of the biggest African trading blocs.

Members include Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Seychelles and Swaziland.

The meeting, which closes today, was held under the theme, "Enhancing intra-COMESA trade through micro, small and medium enterprise development."

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