Harare – Following a validation meeting in May 2021 on the feasibility of establishing and managing a common agro-industrial park between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the UN Economic Commission for Africa has agreed to support the initiative as part of technical assistance towards accelerating regional co-operation and development.
In a review of the May discussions, ECA Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa acting director Mr Sizo Mhlanga this week said the agricultural sector was key to regional socio-economic development and presented opportunities for industrialisation through the deepening of commodity value chains and linkages.
Furthermore, he said, the agro-processing sector had great potential to contribute to inclusive growth, sustainable economic transformation and job creation.
“This … is momentous in the industrialization and regional integration journey in Southern Africa,” Mr Mhlanga said.
Representatives from the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe emphasised that the project was key to addressing poverty, hunger, unemployment and inequality.
Mr Paul Lupunga, the Acting Secretary in Zambia’s Commerce, Trade and Industry Ministry pointed out that the common agro-industrial park was a culmination of efforts by the COMESA Secretariat to advance the regional industrialisation agenda.
“I wish to commend the COMESA Secretariat for facilitating the signing of the Zambia–Zimbabwe Joint Industrialisation MoU by our ministers of commerce, trade and industry on March 18th, 2021, including the support received from ECA, for the feasibility study,” he said.
Deputy Director in Zimbabwe’s Industry and Commerce Ministry, Mrs Spiwe Nyamatore, said the country’s national development plans prioritised industrialization as an engine for driving economic development and growth through value chains, and the park was a key component in this endeavour.
The May validation meeting was organised collaboratively with the COMESA Secretariat.
COMESA director (Industry and Agriculture) Ms Providence Mavubi said the joint industrialisation thrust between Zambia and Zimbabwe had among its objectives “to harness comparative advantages from the diverse natural resources and synergies in resource utilization, improve competitiveness and reap benefits of economies of scale of the two countries”.
She said, “Ultimately, the goal is to promote regional industrialisation and integration.”