BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
Chirundu Border Post will soon receive a US$4,9 million facelift after the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and Zimbabwe signed an agreement that sub-delegates the implementation of coordinated border management activities, trade and transport facilitation programme at the border post.
The sub-delegated activities will support upgrading of priority cross-border infrastructure and equipment at Chirundu border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
This is part of the €48 million trade facilitation programme (TFP), financed under the 11th European Development Fund (11 EDF) from the European Union (EU) to Comesa.
Comesa secretary-general Chileshe Kapwepwe and the permanent secretary in Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministry, James Manzou separately signed the agreement in Lusaka and Harare this week.
Manzou said the signing of the sub-delegation agreement came after an assessment of existing challenges at the targeted border post.
He expressed gratitude to 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 European Union,” he said.
Manzou explained that the modalities of implementation of the sub-delegated activities envisage the beneficiary member State taking ownership and lead in the implementation of the activities in line with the EDF procurement procedures.
Kapwepwe chipped in, saying:“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 infrastructures on the basis that the ministry is best placed to understand the challenges and provide the best decisions of mitigating these challenges.”
She added that Comesa will facilitate financial, logistical and administrative processes. The funds 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.
“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,” Manzou said.
He added: “The interventions at the border post were expected to enhance efficiency and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business. The support is, therefore, timely as Zimbabwe grapples with the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Affirming the development, EU ambassador to Zambia and special representative to Comesa Jacek Jankowski said: “The EU 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 added: “The EU and its member States are keen to share their experiences from our own common market integration to steadily improve connectivity and regional integration in Africa.”
Meanwhile, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said: “All countries in the region have a lot to benefit from deepened regional integration and increased trade. Zimbabwe will benefit directly from trade facilitation and easier access across borders.”
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