Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
FORMAL small-scale cross-border traders between Zimbabwe and Zambia received a major boost with a signing of Euro 920 000 agreement earmarked to construct a cross-border market at Chirundu border post between the two countries.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat and Zimbabwe inked the sub- delegation deal today, 24 March.
The Secretary General of COMESA, Ms Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe and the Permanent Secretary and Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Zimbabwe official, Mr Moses Mhike signed the agreement in a virtual event.
THE Zimbabwe Government has always advocated for the development of decent workspace for micro, small and medium enterprises.
The infrastructure to be constructed will include trading space, secure storage and sanitary facilities and decent trading environment especially for women traders.
The provision of the market infrastructure is expected to boost formal small-scale cross-border trade flows between the two countries.
Added to that, it is expected to lead to higher revenue collection for governments, increased security and higher income for small-scale cross-border traders.
The traders’ market which is located at Chirundu on the Zimbabwe side, is funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), Small Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI).
The SSCBTI supports the provision of gender sensitive basic infrastructure for use by small scale cross border traders.
According to an assessment carried out by a consulting firm, IMANI Development in May 2017 at five regional border posts, basic workspace infrastructure is a major requirement of small-scale traders, hence the availability of border market infrastructure would increase the connection between traders and customers and lead to reduced losses especially in perishable stock.
The assessed borders were Kasumbalesa (DRC and Zambia), Chirundu (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Nakonde/Tunduma (Zambia and Tanzania), Mwami/Mchinji (Zambia and Malawi) and Moyale (Ethiopia and Kenya).
Commenting on the deal, Mr Mhike said the development of the Chirundu Traders’ Market is part of the Government’s thrust to develop decent workspace for micro, small and medium enterprises.
“The support from the European Union is highly appreciated and I would want to assure COMESA of our full cooperation to ensure the completion of the market and its subsequent use by the small-scale traders,” he said.
On the other hand, Ms Kapwepwe said the modalities of implementation of the sub-delegated activities provides an opportunity for Zimbabwe and its key stakeholders to take ownership and lead in the implementation of the activities and final management of the Market as COMESA Secretariat provides the necessary technical guidance to ensure all the rules and procedures are adhered to.
Ambassador of the European Union to Zimbabwe, Mr Jobst von Kirchmann commended efforts taken by Zimbabwe in collaboration with COMESA, to foster regional integration, especially in the support to small-scale traders at Chirundu border.
“The European Union stays committed to support the formalization of trade in the COMESA region and in the promotion of sustainable value chain development within the region.”