Kenya's President Ruto proposes single currency for Africa

During summit in Zambia, COMESA leaders call for quick action to realize regional trade, integration

James Kunda  | 08.06.2023 - Update : 09.06.2023
Kenya's President Ruto proposes single currency for Africa

LUSAKA, Zambia

Kenya's President William Ruto called on Thursday for the introduction of a single African currency to ease trade on the continent.

Delivering his maiden speech at the 22nd Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) heads of State and Government Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, Ruto said that regional integration meant that citizens would not have to worry about which currency to trade in.

“Our people cannot trade without worrying about which currency to use. This, among other non-tariff barriers, is something we must urgently address so that our people can begin to trade together and integrate,” he said.

The summit ran under the theme “Economic integration for a thriving COMESA anchored on green investment, value addition, and tourism.”

Addressing the summit, Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera said the region could no longer lose more time in the quest to attain regional integration.

“The potential for intra-COMESA trade is colossal; the demand for value-added products is bound to keep growing well into the future, meaning we cannot lag behind any longer in the quest to attain regional integration,” said Chakwera.

COMESA chairman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the president of Egypt, said the bloc had a market of 580 million citizens with a combined gross domestic product of more than $720 billion, leaving no excuse as to why trade should not be enhanced.

Al-Sisi called for member states to collaborate in building infrastructure that would ease the movement of goods and people in the region to promote integration.

The host and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said the region had to sustain peace and stability as prerequisites for socio-economic development.

“Instability anywhere is instability everywhere, and I dare say that without peace, security and stability, there can be no socio-economic development,” said Hichilema, to whom al-Sisi officially handed over the bloc's chairmanship during the summit.

Later, the summit resolved to enhance efforts to actualize regional trade and integration.

According to a communiqué issued on behalf of the 21 member states, the summit noted that the region still had $100 billion in
untapped trade and investment potential.

“It is on this score that the summit agreed that there is a need for member states to harness efforts towards attaining regional trade and integration by eliminating barriers to trade,” said COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe, as she read out the communiqué.

Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister Salah Jama also informed the summit that the Somali Cabinet on Thursday approved the East African nation's formal membership in COMESA, a year on after successful elections and the peaceful power transfer to a new government.

Kapwepwe announced that the 23rd edition of the organization’s summit would be held in Burundi, while the 24th edition would be held
in Eswatini.

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