LOZHITA PALACE, Kingdom of Swaziland – Speaking at the 14th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) this week in the Swaziland, Vice President for the Republic of Seychelles, Mr. Danny Faure, reiterated the call for regional groupings to ensure that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) also benefit from infrastructural development in regional programmes.
In his address to the summit, the Vice President echoed the call presented by President James Michel during the recent PTA Bank annual general meeting held in Seychelles saying that: “The realities of the global economy mean that small islands and small landlocked countries are repeatedly the first to feel the shocks of any global pressures. We see regional approaches as a means of reducing these vulnerabilities. But smaller countries also benefit less from infrastructural development.”
The Vice President, who is representing President Michel at the Summit, re-affirmed the development responsibility of all member states of COMESA by adding that: “It is our duty, as members of COMESA, to ensure that we can turn globalization from a challenge into an opportunity. It is our duty, to ensure that all member states, large or small, can turn to our region, to COMESA, as the first line of support.”
During the summit, the Vice President also expressed the support of the government of Seychelles for the Tripartite process, whereby the regional groupings of SADC, COMESA, and the East African Community (EAC) will create an enlarged free trade area, which will in effect be one of the largest free trading blocks in the world.
In relation to the need for infrastructural development that benefits the islands of COMESA, the Seychelles delegation has called for the development of port infrastructure in the region, as well as the facilitation of regional shipping links, the creation of a regional shipping line, and the development of a maritime trade corridor to complement the land-based corridors that allow goods to flow easily from one state to another.
The summit also reviewed the progress of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the European Union, whereby the Vice President expressed the importance of being able to conclude the process as quickly as possible so as to allow trade to continue along predictable rules and procedures.
The summit was conducted under the theme “Harnessing Science and Technology for Development,” and the COMESA member states also outlined plans to accelerate the development of the region through adoption and mainstreaming of advanced technological processes and innovative approaches. Member states were urged to create science and technology committees and advisory offices. It is to be noted that President Michel created the Seychelles innovation Council last year to ensure that Seychelles is well placed to benefit from advances in science and technology and also enhance home grown innovative practices.
In relation to the theme of the summit, Vice President Faure remarked that: “This theme brings us together in our quest to accelerate development for our region and our continent. It reminds us that we have the ability to achieve great things when we work together as one.”
The summit also considered the subject of climate change and urged funding agencies to honor their promises to allocate mitigation funds to developing countries that are the most affected by the problem.
Seychelles was honored at the summit by being asked to deliver the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the Heads of State and Governance in attendance. In his message, the Vice President hailed the energy and enthusiasm of the Swazi people and noted that this energy and enthusiasm was also one of the hallmarks of COMESA.
The Seychelles delegation at the summit also included Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam; Principal Secretary for the Vice President’s Office, Mrs. Jeanne Simeon; and Seychelles Ambassador to COMESA, Mr. Joseph Nourrice.