- Djibouti is currently gearing up to the summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), due to be held 15-16 November 2006. By that, the tiny, poor Horn state is to pamper COMESA state leaders with a brand new five-star hotel and a luxurious cruise ship.
Djibouti's COMESA summit organising committee is rushing the completion of the five-star Djibouti Kempinski Hotel, being financed by Dubai Al Nakheel, the wealthy Emirate's premier development company and part of Dubai World, and may hire a luxurious cruise ship to accommodate the businessmen attending the conference.
Khalid Awad Xaydar, Director General of the Ministry of information and Culture and spokesman of the Organising Committee, said that 12 committees and subcommittees have been set up for the hospitality, information and provision of equipment and transport for the delegates.
"The 600 room hotel is part of the international Kempinski chain and is expected to be completed in time," he said, adding that there was an idea under study to hire a luxurious cruise ship to accommodate the wealthy businessmen attending the conference.
COMESA is a regional integration grouping of African states including Angola, Brundi, Comoros, Congo Kinshasa, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Its main mission is to promote regional integration through trade development and to develop their natural and human resources for mutual benefit of all their peoples.
One of the six objectives of COMESA as enshrined in the COMESA treaty is to contribute towards the establishment of the African Economic Community.
Initially established in 1981 as the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), the group was transformed into COMESA in 1994.
A ministerial preparatory meeting will precede the summit to formulate the agenda, while the First Ladies will hold a sideline meeting to discuss issues related to upgrading the socio-economic status of women and measures to be taken against AIDS.
A company from the Arabian Gulf will also hold a trade fair alongside the conference with the participation of hundreds of regional and international companies.
Djibouti views the event as an opportunity to sell its strategic position and plan to project itself as a gateway for most of the hinterland COMESA members. Its efforts to achieve this goal includes the establishment of a free trade zone, expected to be the biggest in Africa when it is completed in 2008, a well as the development of a new terminal at Doraale in which the DPW has invested US$ 400 million.
Sitting on an area slightly larger than Wales, Djibouti's is among the 50 poorest countries in the world with 74 percent of its 700,000 population living on less than US$ 1 per day according to WFP. The Djibouti port, which also feeds landlocked Ethiopia and parts of Somalia, is the country's main source of revenue.
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