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 First 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.
The Second Tripartite Summit was held on 12 June, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the summit the integration process under the Tripartite will be developmental in nature, and will rest on three critical, interdependent pillars, namely infrastructure development, industrial development and market integration.
A major outcome of the Second COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit includes the official launch of negotiations for the establishment of an integrated market / Free Trade Area (FTA) consisting of the 26 countries of COMESA, EAC and SADC. These countries currently make up half of the African Union in terms of membership and contribute 58% of its total GDP, estimated at approximately USD 1 Trillion.
The Tripartite FTA will found an even larger market for the countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, creating more opportunities for trade and enhancing the competitiveness of the region.
TMSA is supporting this regional integration process by providing administrative, financial and technical support to the Regional Economic Communities of COMESA and SADC as well as to the Tripartite Institution.