Supporting Common Market for East and Southern Africa


COMESA is a regional organization of 19 African Member States, with its headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia. Its mission is to “endeavor to achieve sustainable economic and social progress particularly in trade, customs and monetary affairs, transport, communication and information, technology, industry and energy, gender, agriculture, environment and natural resources.”  USAID has maintained a strong partnership with COMESA since 1998 through integrated partnership assistance agreements.

Regional Development Objective Grant Agreement (RDOAG)

Once COMESA became a Public International Organization, a Regional Development Objective Grant Agreement (RDOAG) was signed in September, 2016.  The agreement focuses on shared objectives of sustainable economic integration across the region and strengthening COMESA’s leadership and continuous learning. The selected activities and achievements below are the product of the partnership and the implementing partners in the region.


Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) is a specialized agency of COMESA and a key USAID partner.  ACTESA promotes expanded access for smallholder farmers to national, regional and international markets for staple food crops and livestock, enhancing food security and increasing incomes. ACTESA helped the USAID Feed the Future focus on enabled policy environments in the areas of biotechnology, seed and fertilizer.

In 2015, through the Independent Petroleum Association America partnership, ACTESA continued to provide regional support through the validation of the COMESA Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy Implementation Plan (COMBIP) and the completion of several activities under the COMESA Seed Harmonization Implementation Plan (COMSHIP). 

ACTESA conducted sensitization and awareness of the COMESA Seed Trade Regulations (STR) in the 13 member states. It also rolled out activities of drafting, creating, realigning, reviewing and passing of Seed Acts in Member States. A draft COMESA fertilizer standard and associated policies and regulations were completed in 2015. The gazetting of this policy package is a priority action for 2016.

COMESA Business Council (CBC) recently began implementing the Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project to equip SMEs to implement compliant standards and food-management systems; then links them directly into the supply chain of corporate companies. The CBC is a prime example of dynamic program development leading to sustainability, with private-sector stake holders taking on increasing shares of the CBC program budget.

Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Partnership is led by COMESA in East and Southern Africa.  In partnership with the New Partnership for Africa Development and the African Union, the COMESA Secretariat coordinated development of country and regional "compacts" to increase investments in agricultural productivity and trade. 

Trading for Peace activities are conducted in coordination with the German Development Bank (KFW), USAID, and COMESA. The activity seeks to increase cross-border trade and build awareness of the role of trade in peace building, governance and poverty reduction. Trade Information Desks have been established at 10 border points in the region with USAID funding.

COMESA Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary unit has supported the development of the SPS policy measures to facilitate trade in agricultural commodities among member states and with other countries. This effort included support for risk and policy analysis workshops, training cross-border traders on SPS policies and regulations.

Support to COMESA is provided through direct grants and technical assistance provided by USAID/EA regional implementing partner activities such as Africa Lead II and African Institutions Innovation Mechanism AIIM Assist.


Issuing Country 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 11:00am

Last updated: December 06, 2017