ZAMBIA and Zimbabwe recently signed a partnership agreement to embark on an industrialisation project that is being spearheaded by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
The two southern African countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement a joint industrialization project spearheaded by the COMESA secretariat. The Joint Industrialization Project will promote self-sustained, balanced and inclusive economic growth between the two countries.
It will provide opportunities for the private sector to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area, through enhanced competitiveness, read a statement posted on its website.
Representing Zimbabwe, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Dr Sekayi Nzenza and her Zambian counterpart, Christopher Yaluma had a virtual signing ceremony that was also witnessed by the COMESA secretary-general Chileshe Kapwepwe on the 18th March 2021.
Hon Nzenza said the project will ensure increased private sector participation, effective utilization of the Public-Private Partnership framework, effective coordination, enhanced investment in science, technology and innovation including the availability of both human and financial resources necessary for its implementation
This comes at a time President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is stuttering towards creating a middle-class economy by 2030, with re-industrialisation being a key cog in economic production.
The body’s secretary-general said the project’s success will enable the two-sister countries and COMESA’s member states to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic transformation through industrialization.
“Once successful, the pilot project will be upscaled to other member states in the region,” she said.
According to the 2020 World Bank estimates, the average manufacturing value-added as a percentage of GDP for the COMESA region stood at 10 percentage (%) while that of South East Asia stood at 18%.
The discouraging statistics show the key need of the COMESA region and the continent at large to ensure structural economic transformation through industrialization.
Minister Yaluma said the project has come at the right time as it fully supports the Zambian industrialization and job creation agenda and was optimistic of fruitful partnership results in the shared industrialisation drive.
“Despite the growth potential in the region, poverty, unemployment, low investment levels, and depressed aggregate demand, among others, are prevalent in the COMESA region,” he said.
He thanked the COMESA secretariat for facilitating the milestones so far achieved towards the implementation of the Joint Industrialization Project. These include; drafting the Roadmap and an indicative action plan, formulating the MoU, by the joint technical working group of the two-member States and submitting the documents to respective permanent secretaries of the two ministries who adopted them.
Hon Nzenza said added that the project will result in high private sector participation, effective utilization of the Public-Private Partnership framework, effective coordination, enhanced investment in science, technology and innovation including the availability of both human and financial resources necessary for its implementation.
She further stated that the project will harness the competitive advantage of the two countries resulting in improved product development for export into and out of the region, thereby creating wealth for the citizens and the countries at large.
“Our two countries will ensure that the implementation of the project shall be done according to the project implementation plan through value chains from both countries so that no losses are made due to the long process of implementation,” said Hon Nzenza.