PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday made his maiden address at the 19th COMESA Heads of State and government summit with a call for peace and stability in the region in order for meaningful social and economic development to be achieved. And President Lungu also informed the Heads of States present at the summit that his government has allocated 10 hectares of land to ensure that the operations of the secretariat were not constrained by lack of office space. The Head of State said he is eagerly looking forward to the construction of the new COMESA headquarters on the piece of land provided by his government. “Zambia firmly believes that there could be no meaningful social and economic development in the absence of peace and stability in our region. “In this regard, my country welcomes all initiatives aimed at bringing about lasting peace within the COMESA region and beyond,” he said. President Lungu acknowledged the progress which the regional organisation had made in many areas including trade, infrastructure development, establishment of one stop border posts, peace and security, health, education, food security and harmonisation of policies and programmes. He said he was delighted to note that COMESA was on the right track in as far as the promotion of regional integration was concerned. President Lungu said going forward there was need to build on the gains in order to accelerate economic growth and sustainable development for the mutual benefit of the COMESA countries and its people. “It is also incumbent upon us to look beyond the region and actively participate in the integration processes at the tripartite and continental levels so that we broaden opportunities for our business communities,” he said. The Head of State said it was important that COMESA accredited countries continued working towards improving the business environment so that the private sector and other economic players could thrive and become visible on the international scene. He said with enhanced vigour there was need to promote industrialisation and the growth of the small and medium enterprises. President Lungu said investment in energy generation and infrastructure development were critical considerations as the region worked towards attaining inclusive and sustainable industrialisation. “While acknowledging that our countries face numerous challenges, the consolidation of our productive capacities and transforming the basket of our export trade remain key elements in this regard. “As we move forward, it is imperative for us to acknowledge the realities of the dynamics of the global economy we are operating in as these have implications for our regional integration process,” the Head of State said. President Lungu called for doubled up efforts and harnessed individual strengths to collectively address the rather complex challenges that confront the region in increasingly globalised and interdependent world. “Let me, reaffirm once again, my Government’s commitment to working closely with all your excellencies in the attainment of the COMESA vision and improvement of the lives of all our people,” he said.