Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE and Zambia are working to establish a joint agro-industrial park, which will improve the availability of goods and services for the bilateral market and broaden intra-regional trade of manufactured products.
The proposed project is being supported by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Comesa said the industrial park would be partially located on each side of the border between the two countries.
“The Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe with support from Comesa secretariat, the UNECA and AfDB are working on modalities to establish a joint-agro industrial park.
“The proposed project is expected to increase the availability of industrial goods and services for the bilateral market and expand intra-regional trade in manufacturing,” said Comesa in a statement.
The 21-member trading bloc said the planned project would help develop industrialists that would acquire ownership and management of the industries, develop appropriate skills and knowledge in industries, strengthen collaboration and bolster networking among policy makers, regulators, industry and academia.
To this end, Comesa said a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the two countries in March last year, marking the launch of the first ever joint industrialisation cooperation programme between the two neighbouring countries.
On March 30 this year, Zambia’s Government officials and their local counterparts met in Lusaka and Livingstone cities to sensitise stakeholders, comprising the private sector, academia, research institutions, civil society, Comesa secretariat, UNECA, AfDB and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) on the progress.
A similar workshop was held in Zimbabwe last year.
Furthermore, the industrial park will prioritise the processing of value chains such as cotton, maize, wheat, rice, soya beans, sugar, livestock (leather and dairy) and horticulture.
“These sectors provide extensive linkages with the manufacturing sector particularly in the processed food sub-sector which is key in promoting industrial activities.
“The project is aligned with the Comesa Industrial Strategy, which member States have adopted to create a globally competitive environment-friendly, diversified industrial sector which is based on innovation and manufacturing as tools for transforming regional resources into sustainable wealth and prosperity for all,” said the trading bloc.
The recently held meeting encouraged the formation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as they have a potential to be used as platforms for regional and sub-regional markets and inputs supply.
Comesa assistant secretary general for programmes Dr Kipyego Cheluget informed the meeting that the trading bloc has provided the framework of managing SEZs and industrial parks to make them sustainable, inclusive and competitive.
“I commend the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe for the political commitment to support the implementation of this programme,” he was quoted as saying in a statement that was read on his behalf by Comesa director of Industry and Agriculture, Mrs Providence Mavubi.