Dr Chilima made the remarks on Tuesday in Cairo, Egypt, when he delivered a keynote address during the 21st Common Market for the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Summit.
At the summit, representatives of member states took time sharing notes on how best to promote and advance the group’s regional integration agenda.
Notable speakers included the former Chairperson for COMESA Andry Rajoelina as well as the current COMESA Chairperson, President of Egypt, Eldel Fattah Al-sis.
He said challenges brought by COVID-19 should be a motivation for the bloc to continue working together to deepen economic integration.
He added there was a need to continuously create a conducive environment to encourage business growth and the private sector.
President Al-Sis pointed out this should be done while intensifying efforts to boost joint investments in various sectors including in the areas of infrastructure, telecommunications, transport and energy.
On behalf of the SADC Chairperson, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, Dr Chilima said the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed economic gains that countries had achieved over the years and Malawi is no exception.
Dr Chilima said the situation has globally triggered a rise in the cost of both goods and services.
At this point, the Vice President invited national governments to develop a robust economic recovery plan from the pandemic.
"We need to build resilience, soon COVID-19 will no longer be an excuse to our people," said Chilima.
He further said the theme of the summit “Building Resilience Through Strategic Digital Economic Integration, speaks well with the Africa Agenda 2063 which acknowledges the importance of digital inclusiveness.
The summit aims to rally the 21 member states on how to safeguard and advance the Comesa regional integration agenda using digital platforms to facilitate doing business and enhance their resilience to face the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also strengthen cooperation among investment agents in Africa and open communication channels among member countries and the private sector to facilitate the movement of investments across the continent.
Some member states virtually attended the summit.
The 21st Comesa Summit comes three years since the last one was hosted in Lusaka, Zambia in 2018.
The last time Egypt hosted a similar summit was in 2001.