Zimbabwe Ministry of Commerce and Industry Holds Sensitization Workshops on the Establishment and Management of a Common Agro-industrial Park
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 organized sensitization workshops in Harare and Bulawayo on the establishment and management of common agro-industrial park between Zambia and Zimbabwe under the joint industrialization cooperation programme between the two countries.
The objectives of the sensitization workshop were to sensitize 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, expand intra- regional trade in manufactures, develop industrialists that would own and manage the industries, develop appropriate skills and knowledge in industries and strengthen collaboration and networking among policy makers, regulators, industry and academia.
The meeting was officially opened with a video recorded message from the Minister of Industry and Commerce Honourable Dr. Sekai Nzenza who wished the meeting well, explaining how critical and timeous the workshops were for regional industrialization and value chains development. The Chief Director, Ms. Florence Makombe read the Minister’s speech officially opening deliberations. The Honourable Minister outlined how the pre-feasibility study, which assessed the possibility of establishing and managing an agro-industrial park between Zambia and Zimbabwe, whose results we are here to publicise, 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. The Minister further noted that the two countries share an expansive border, stretching from Mashonaland West to Matabeleland North province on the Zimbabwean side, 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.
In her welcoming remarks, ECA Sub regional Office for Southern Africa Director, Ms. Eunice Kamwendo applauded the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe on the decision to deepen regional integration through cooperation in productive activities which exploit natural comparative advantages in both member States within the overall framework of industrial developmentunder the SADC and COMESA industrialization strategies. She noted that this initiative alone, a simple step, moved the two countries closer to those higher goals, pulling the whole sub-region with them in the process.
Ms. Kamwendo also pointed out that, “as we build back our regional economies from the devasting 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. 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”.
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. It is anchored on the need to achieve industrialisation in the two Member States through collaboration. He specifically underscored that the aim is to increase the availability of industrial goods and services; expand intra- regional trade in manufactures; develop industrialists, develop appropriate skills and knowledge in industries and strengthen collaboration; and bolster networking among stakeholders.
Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Hon. Raj Modi, speaking in Bulawayo, the venue of the twin sensitization meeting, noted that the establishment and management of a common agro industrial park under the joint industrialization cooperation programme between Zambia and Zimbabwe is long overdue. “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.
The ECA Consultant on the study, Mr. Rongai Chizema, presented the findings and recommendations of the pre-feasibility study on the common agro-industrial park between Zambia and Zimbabwe focusing on the nature of the park, the focus value chains, lessons learnt from other countries, existing operating conditions in the two countries which could impact on the park, possible sources of finance and a SWOT analysis of the environment.
The meeting proffered recommendations to bolster industrial development and competitiveness in the agro-industrial park and provided a roadmap on the initiative. A report of the proceedings of the sensitization meetings will be drafted.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).