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Commerce and Industry Permanent Secretaries from Zambia and Zimbabwe with development partners push for implementation of the common agro industrial park

25 May, 2022
Commerce and Industry Permanent Secretaries from Zambia and Zimbabwe with development partners push for implementation of the common agro industrial park

Livingstone, 24 March 2022 (ECA) – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA), in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) with Permanent Secretaries (PS) of Commerce and Industry from Zambia and Zimbabwe held a two-day high-level meeting to discuss the implementation of a common agro-industrial park (CAIP) between the two countries.

The objective of the meeting was to update the two Permanent Secretaries on the progress on the implementation of the industrial cooperation programme between the two countries focusing on the common agro-industrial park; discuss the funding opportunities for activities in the park; propose a possible location of the park; review the draft harmonized policy, legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for the park and agree on a roadmap for the initiative's subsequent phases.

In her official opening remarks, Ms. Chalwe Chuulu, PS Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (Zambia) welcomed the signing of the MOU on the joint industrialisation programme between the two countries under which CAIP was being implemented noting that it reinforces bilateral ties and that the initiative cements the strategic partnership between the two states. She alluded to the central role of ECA, COMESA, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), African Development Bank (AfDB) and Afreximbank in promoting agro-industrialization through the park observing that the park had a regional significance as a model for cooperation and industrial development. "With a combined population of 1.3 billion and a purchasing power of US$3.4 trillion, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) also provides our countries’ entrepreneurs with the opportunity to trade preferentially beyond the COMESA and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions and venture into Central, West and North Africa. Activities in the park, including the production of value-added products, will make this a reality.

Dr. Mavis Sibanda, PS, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Zimbabwe, noted that the meeting provided an opportunity to achieve a common understanding of the findings and recommendations of the prefeasibility study and lead to the identification of a possible location for the park, “let us take advantage of the Joint Industrialization Cooperation Programme as we anticipate opportunities coming out of the AfCFTA. Pooling resources will ensure economies of scale and will enable the two neighbouring countries to compete favourably on the market". She reiterated Zimbabwe’s commitment to the accelerated implementation of the initiative.

In her welcoming remarks, ECA SRO-SA Director, Eunice Kamwendo informed the meeting that the CAIP was at the heart of ECA’s focus on Southern Africa and it is considered a practical blueprint for economic transformation, industrialisation and regional integration within the sub-region. She assured the two Government Representatives that ECA remained committed to work with partners towards supporting the park initiative to strengthen regional integration, enhance economic development, and facilitate the improvement of the living conditions of citizens of the two member States. “The agriculture sector contributes over 15% to GDP in both Zambia and Zimbabwe, employs over 70% of labour force and contributes between 4 to 27 % of regional GDP for SADC and COMESA regional economic communities”.

The COMESA Secretariat, through the Assistant Secretary General, Programmes, Ambasador Dr. Kipyego Cheluget reminded the meeting that, "we must form strong structures and build their capacities at the national and regional level. Our interaction must be as frequent, especially in the formative years of the Programme so that we do not lose the momentum," He underscored the central role of partners in pushing the initiative forward.

Technical presentations by COMESA on the Joint Industrialization Cooperation Programme between Zambia and Zimbabwe, by ECA on the CAIP; UNIDO on technical and financial assistance options to support the initiative as well as plans for detailed feasibility studies in the CAIP; AfDB and Afreximbank on financing options; the Infrastructure Development Bank (Zimbabwe) on domestic sources of finance and the Zambia and Zimbabwe private sector associations on opportunities in the park,  provided a platform for discussions. A presentation of the Draft Policy, Legal, Regulatory and Institutional Framework for the park provided a roadmap on the next stage which will include a detailed feasibility study.

The meeting decided that to move forward the two Permanent Secretaries will engage relevant Ministries in their respective countries and will organize presentations of the initiative to Ministerial Panels to endear ownership across governments. A detailed feasibility study will be commissioned with technical support from UNIDO and other partners to determine the exact location of the park as provide information to anchor actual investments and development of the park.

Issued by:
The Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 30647, Lusaka, Zambia.

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