Strategies of communication between the Comesa secretariat and member states in promoting intra-Comesa trade
Chali, Estella Mwendalubi Mulenda
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In a bid to boost their national economies, countries all over the world seek to create larger economic spaces through membership to appropriate regional economic groupings. These groupings offer greater chances for penetrating world trade and can, at their best, lead to economic explosion at both the national and regional levels. However, to penetrate the world market, there should be substantive trade within a grouping. This appears to be a major problem in the common market for Eastern and Southern (COMESA). Documented evidence shows very little economic growth in COMESA, with very little intra- COMESA trade. This study was therefore, an effort to investigate the strategies of communication that COMESA was using in promoting intra COMESA trade, with a view to highlighting possible shortcomings in the process. The main research method used was participant observation where the student was on a six-month attachment in the Public Relations Unit at the COMESA Secretariat. A questionnaire and in-depth interviews were the main tools used in the collection of data. This report is two-fold: it analyses the communication situation within the Secretariat itself (among the staff of the Secretarial); and the current communication approaches employed by the Secretariat in promoting intra COMESA Trade. Findings of the study reveal that COMESA has no communication strategy to support strong advocacy in member states. At the same time, it has no unit or department in its structure, to specifically deal with the crucial issues of advocacy. As such, COMESA experiences numerous communication problems on trade related issues. This has been a hindrance on economic development of the region and needs to be corrected urgently. The report therefore, recommends that a clear, holistic communication strategy be put in place and be executed by communication experts under one relevant unit or department.