Background

The Tripartite is an umbrella organization consisting of three of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (REC’s), namely:

  • the East Africa Community (EAC),
  • the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and
  • the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The Tripartite was established in 2005. The Tripartite Task Force, headed by the Secretary Generals of COMESA and the EAC, and the Executive Secretary of SADC, has met at least twice per year since 2006. The main focus of deliberations has been the harmonisation of REC programmes in the areas of trade and infrastructure development. In 2007 the Tripartite Task Force recommended that a Tripartite Summit of Heads of State and the Government of COMESA, EAC and SADC be convened. The envisaged Summit would give important direction and political endorsement to the Tripartite’s efforts to harmonise their various programmes and would increase buy-in of member states. The recommendation was accepted and the Tripartite Summit was held on 22nd October 2008 in Kampala, Uganda.

The overarching objective of the Tripartie is to contribute to the broader objectives of the African Union (AU), namely accelerating economic integration of the continent and achieving sustainable economic development - thereby alleviating poverty and improving quality of life for the people of the Eastern and Southern African Region. As such, the Tripartite works towards improving coordination and harmonisation of the various regional integration programmes of its member REC’s. These regional integration programmes focus on expanding and integrating trade and include the establishment of Free Trade Areas (FTA’s), Custom Unions, Monetary Unions and Common Markets, as well as infrastructure development projects in transport, information and communications technology and energy.

With more than 527 million people and a Gross domestic product (GDP) of approximately 624 Billion US Dollors, the 26 member countries of the Tripartite make up 57% of the population of the African Union (AU) and just over 58% in terms of contribution to GDP. This makes the Tripartite vital to the envisaged single market and continental integration of the African Economic Community (AEC).