Economy

Burundi says it is ready to host 2017 COMESA Summit

Pélate Niyonkuru, Minister of trade and industry:  “It would be unfair to move the summit to another country with all the money we invested in its preparations.”

Pélate Niyonkuru, Minister of trade and industry: “It would be unfair to move the summit to another country with all the money we invested in its preparations.”

The secretary general of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has recently sent a letter to the Burundian Minister of Trade and Industry stating that Burundi will not host the 20thsummit of COMESA. However, the concerned minister says the reasons provided in the letter are unfounded and adds that they are going on with preparations to host the summit.

In his letter addressed to the ministry of trade and industry, written on 20 July and made public on 29 July, 2017, Sindiso Ngwenya, the secretary general of COMESA made a list of reasons why Burundi cannot host the 20th COMESA summit.

Among reasons provided was that Burundi does not have an adequate vehicle pool to ensure the transportation of VIPs, including heads of state. He also mentioned the absence of President Nkurunziza in the 19th Summit last year and that Burundi has neither relevant infrastructure, nor a reliable internet connection.

The Minister of Trade and Industry says they have been preparing the summit since March in collaboration with COMESA. “COMESA secretariat has taken the first preparatory steps since March. On 2nd June 2017, the committee held a meeting to assess the venue and agreed that Burundi could host the summit.

On 7th July, the secretary general himself moved from Lilongwe to Bujumbura to assess the preparations. It would be unfair to move the summit to another country with all the money we invested in its preparations.”

The minister of trade and industry, Pélate Niyonkuru, says the reasons given are unfounded. “Our president did not attend the last year’s summit but sent his vice-president as his delegate. And among 19 presidents who were supposed to attend it, only two showed up. He was not the only one to be absent.

And about vehicles, we have around 40 presidential vehicles whereas we will host a maximum of 21 presidents. We have more than 1000 rooms that can be used. As for other logistic issues, it is not too late. The summit is scheduled this October 19 and all about preparations is under control.”

The Minister reminds that, Sindiso Ngwenya , COMESA secretary general is not the one who takes the decision “These were his observations as a secretary general but there is a committee that will assess and decide. We think that it will take into consideration both observations and this is the reason why I wrote back to him in my correspondence sent on 26 July.”

 

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