President William Ruto delivered a compelling address at the 22nd COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lusaka, Zambia, on Thursday.

In his speech, President Ruto emphasized the need for member countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to adopt a fresh approach to trade, urging them to tap into the region's untapped potential.

Highlighting the significance of value addition, particularly in the agricultural sector, President Ruto stressed that COMESA must prioritize this aspect to enhance productivity.

"The shift will also offer higher returns, incentivize industrialization, boost our competitiveness, and create employment," he stated.

By embracing value addition, COMESA countries can unlock substantial economic benefits and elevate their trade potential.

During his address, Ruto called for a shift from primary production and the export of raw materials to manufacturing.

He emphasized the immense potential for intra-COMESA trade, pointing out that the demand for value-added products will continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

“The potential for intra-COMESA trade is colossal; the demand for value-added products is bound to keep growing well into the future,” he explained.

Ruto urged member states to capitalize on the 580 million-strong market within COMESA to bolster trade activities.

Furthermore, President Ruto emphasized the importance of utilizing Africa's abundant, clean energy resources to drive industrial development.

"We are championing for the radical repositioning of Africa as the clean, green continent of the future in order to exploit the opportunities arising from the transition to green industrialization," he declared.

This strategic approach aligns with global efforts towards sustainability and presents a unique opportunity for African nations to become leaders in eco-friendly industries.

In addition to urging reforms within COMESA, Ruto advocated for the consolidation of the COMESA, the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community to strengthen the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

He also emphasized the need for the African Union to be empowered to negotiate collective interests on behalf of the continent.

Ruto firmly believed that these steps would enhance Africa's bargaining power on the global stage, positioning the continent for economic growth and prosperity.

The 22nd COMESA Summit also marked the end of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's tenure as chairman, as he officially handed over the reins to President Hakainde Hichilema.

The transition of leadership symbolizes the continuity and collaborative spirit within COMESA and sets the stage for further progress and development in the region.

Ruto's address at the COMESA Summit served as a powerful call to action for member countries to embrace a systemic shift in their approach to trade.

By espousing value addition, utilizing clean energy resources, and fostering regional cooperation, COMESA can unleash its untapped potential, driving economic growth, and propelling Africa forward in the global marketplace.