Review of the COMESA Aid for Trade Strategy

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    AfT to the COMESA region is growing, according to the OECD’s donor reporting system. The wide scope of AfT as a relatively new and overarching category of aid masks the fact that much of this aid is going to traditional areas such as agriculture, transport infrastructure, energy and productive sectors. AfT delivered at the regional level (including, though by no means limited to, programmes delivered through the COMESA secretariat) is growing at a faster pace than AfT more generally, representing around 10 per cent of all AfT to Africa in 2009. Thus it seems that AfT will continue to be relevant as an aid ‘agenda’ going forward.

    The COMESA Aid for Trade Strategy outlines an approach to AfT rather than a ‘shopping list’ of projects. The main value added of the document lies in its regionally-endorsed commitment to a particular approach to AfT and a limited set of specific, achievable goals. It is also intended to help with coordination at various levels – at the regional level (e.g. between COMESA-level programmes), between COMESA secretariat and its member state, and with donors.

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