Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was established in 1993 by the COMESA Treaty, which has the primary purpose of creating a free trade region. Article 3 of the Treaty provides that the aims and objectives of COMESA are to: attain sustainable growth and development of Member States; promote joint development in all fields of economic activity; cooperate in the creation of an enabling environment for foreign, cross-border and domestic investment; promote peace, security and stability among the Member States; and cooperate in strengthening relations between the Common Market and the rest of the world.


Regional trade integration was first proposed in 1978 by the Lusaka Declaration of Intent and Commitment to the Establishment of a Preferential Trade Area (PTA) for Eastern and Southern Africa, which entered into force in 1982. The Common Market envisaged in the PTA was created in 1993 under the COMESA Treaty.


COMESA is accountable to the Heads of State and Government of its 19 Member States. Its structure includes the Council of Ministers, responsible for policy making; 12 technical committees; and a series of subsidiary advisory bodies.

Overall coordination is managed by the COMESA Secretariat, which is based in Lusaka, Zambia. Several other institutions promote sub-regional cooperation and development, including the COMESA:

• Trade and Development Bank of Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA Bank) in Bujumbura, Burundi
• Clearing House in Harare, Zimbabwe
• Association of Commercial Banks in Harare, Zimbabwe
• Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
• Re-Insurance Company (ZEP-RE) in Nairobi, Kenya
• African Trade Insurance Agency in Nairobi, Kenya
• Competition Commission in Lilongwe, Malawi
• Regional Investment Agency in Cairo, Egypt
• Monetary Institute in Nairobi, Kenya
• Federation of Women in Business (FEMCOM) in Lilongwe, Malawi
• Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) in Lusaka, Zambia
• Business Council (CBC) in Lusaka, Zambia

Members (19)

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