By Staff Reporter
THE Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Industry Ministry organised workshops in Harare and Bulawayo on the establishment of agro-industrial parks between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The agro-industrial parks are under the joint-industrialisation programme between the two countries.
The objectives of the workshops were to sensitise stakeholders on the COMESA Industrialisation Strategy and Action Plan; and on the Zambia-Zimbabwe Joint Industrialisation Programme and opportunities offered to regional member states.
The programme aims to increase the availability of industrial goods and services for the bilateral market among themselves, expand intra-regional trade in manufactures, develop industrialists that would own and manage the industries, develop appropriate skills and knowledge and strengthen collaboration, networking among policy makers, regulators, industry and the academia.
The meetings were opened by Industry Minister Sekai Nzenza who explained how critical the workshops were for regional industrialisation and value chain development.
The minister outlined how a pre-feasibility study, which assessed the possibility of establishing and managing an agro-industrial park between Zambia and Zimbabwe, had revealed a strong business case for the project, based on geographical proximity of the two countries.
Nzenza noted Zambia and Zimbabwe share an expansive border, stretching from Mashonaland West to Matabeleland North province with the Chirundu One-Stop-Border Post (OSBP) being one key infrastructure for trade facilitation on the North-South Corridor for the greater SADC and COMESA market.
ECA Sub regional Office for Southern Africa director Eunice Kamwendo applauded the two governments on the decision to deepen regional integration through cooperation in productive activities which exploit natural comparative advantages.
She noted the initiative was a simple step to higher goals, pulling the whole sub-region with them in the process.
“As we build back our regional economies from the devastating effects of Covid-19, it is imperative that policy frameworks that allowed micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to occupy specific nodes on the agriculture value chains be crafted and implemented as a matter of urgency,” said Kamwendo.
“This will allow businesses to thrive and grow. I am specifically thinking about local content policies which provide preferential access to the MSMEs in procurement and supply chains, not only in the agriculture sector but in the broad national economic space.
“In addition to addressing financial capacity issues, the support to these MSMEs should pointedly target product quality for competitiveness within the AfCFTA as well as enhancing digital skills for the operators.”