Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) has signed an agreement with Zimbabwe that sub-delegates the implementation of Coordinated Border Management activities, Trade and Transport Facilitation programme at the Chirundu border post.
The sub-delegated activities are worth 4,1 million Euros and involve among others the upgrading of priority cross-border infrastructure and equipment at Chirundu border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The initiative is part of the EUR 48 million Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), financed under the 11th European Development Fund (11 EDF) from the European Union (EU) to the Comesa.
The TFP has five key result areas focused on deepening regional integration, improving inclusive regional economic growth and enhancing the competitiveness of the region.
Comesa Secretary-General, Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe and Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade permanent secretary, Ambassador James Manzou, separately signed the sub-delegation agreement in Lusaka and Harare this week.
Ambassador Manzou said the signing of the sub-delegation agreement came after an assessment of existing challenges conducted at the targeted border post in early 2020.
He thanked the EU for the support rendered under the programme through Comesa Secretariat to improve the facilitation of trade at Chirundu border post.
“The support is a testimony of the continued and strengthened collaboration between Zimbabwe and the EU,” he said.
“The desire of the Zimbabwean Government is to build on current trade facilitation efforts through programmes such as the Comesa EDF 11 Trade Facilitation Project”.
Ambassador Manzou added that the interventions at the border post are expected to enhance efficiency and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business.
He said the support was timely considering that the country was grappling with the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Kapwepwe said the benefits for sub-delegation are that the Zimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and beneficiary border agencies in Zimbabwe will improve their own systems.
“It is also an opportunity to upgrade the border infrastructure on the basis that the Ministry is best placed to understand the challenges and provide the best decisions of mitigating these challenges,” she said.
Ms Kapwepwe added that the organisation will facilitate financial, logistical, and administrative processes. The funds, she said, will also support capacity building for stakeholders on innovative and state-of-the-art border operations.
In addition, Ethiopia will implement an awareness campaign on border information targeting customs cooperation and trade facilitation instruments.
European Union Head of Delegation to Zambia, Mr Jacek Jankowski said: “The European Union applauds the signing of the agreement between Zambia and Zimbabwe as it showcases a regional partnership which will strengthen trade facilitation in the region.”
He said the EU and its member states were keen to share their experiences from common market integration to steadily improve connectivity and regional integration in Africa.
European Union representative to Zimbabwe Mr Timo Olkkonen said all countries in the region have a lot to benefit from deepened regional integration and increased trade.
He said Zimbabwe will benefit directly from trade facilitation and easier access across borders. [email protected]