The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Industry and Commerce, organised sensitisation workshops in Harare and Bulawayo on the establishment and management of common agro-industrial park between Zambia and Zimbabwe
The workshops were organised under the joint industrialisation cooperation 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 Industrialization Programme and opportunities offered to regional member states. The Joint Industrialization Cooperation Programme aims to increase the availability of industrial goods and services for the bilateral market among themselves, and expand intra- regional trade in manufactures, among others.
The meeting was officially opened with a video recorded message from the Minister of Industry and Commerce Honourable Dr Sekai Nzenza explaining how critical and timely the workshops were for regional industrialisation and value chains development. Chief director Florence Makombe read the minister’s speech officially opening deliberations. Dr Nzenza outlined how the 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 this project, based on the geographical proximity of the two countries as well as similar business regimes and a history of collaboration.
Kamwendo added, “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 – this will allow businesses to thrive and grow.”
In his remarks, the COMESA Assistant Secretary General (Programmes), Ambassador, Kipyego Cheluget welcomed the agro-industrial park opportunity and went on to express how it was in the sprit that the Joint Industrialisation Programme between Zambia and Zimbabwe was conceived in 2019. Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Raj Modi, speaking in Bulawayo, the venue of the twin sensitisation meeting, said, “Once the common agro-industrial park is implemented, it will among others help in employment creation and will help the two countries pool their resources together for the benefit of the citizens,” he added.